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Penn State vs. Iowa: The Objective Primer and Rankings Roundup

Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
3:30 p.m., October 8, 2011
Beaver Stadium (Capacity: 106,572)

The Iowa Hawkeyes come to Happy Valley to open their Big Ten schedule, fresh off their bye week. They are 3-1 on the year, with their lone loss coming against in-state rival Iowa State. They narrowly escaped with a win against Pitt the following week, a game in which the Panthers tried their best to imitate Lebron James [insert lack of fourth quarter joke here]. Two weeks ago they took care of Louisiana-Monroe 45-17 on the back of a pretty impressive day from their three leaders, James "I'm Not Ricky Stanzi" Vandenberg, Marcus Coker, and Marvin McNutt.

Penn St.   Iowa
148.2 (61) Rushing Offense 140.5 (69)
221.8 (66) Passing Offense 281.25 (28)
111.77 (103) Passing Efficiency 154.08 (29)
370 (81) Total Offense 421.75 (45)
23.2 (93) Scoring Offense 37.75 (21)
95 (24) Rushing Defense 132.5 (52)
155.4 (6) Passing Defense 253.25 (89)
250.4 (5) Total Defense 385.75 (73)
12 (7) Scoring Defense 23.75 (53)
1.6 (T79) Sacks 2 (T53)
1 (T20) Sacks Allowed 1.25 (37)
7.8 (13) Tackles for Loss 5 (T83)
.2 (T50) Turnover Margin 1 (T16)
6.26 (83) Punt Returns 8.6 (56)
20.81 (73) Kickoff Returns 22.42 (47)

The takeaway from all this being? Well:

  • THROWING. Iowa has a better passing game, but they have an established starter, so go figure. They will, however, be without their backup, noted window-hater A.J. Derby. Conversely, and to the surprise of no one, Penn State's passing game is almost perfectly average in yardage and nearly the worst in the country in efficiency. EDGE: Iowa
  • RUNNING. Both teams are right around the middle of the FBS pack when it comes to rushing the football, with Silas Redd and Marcus Coker leading each team. Surprisingly, Coker has the better numbers, individually (based on yds/gm). We know Penn State has a couple of damn fine fullbacks, but I don't know enough about the Iowa fullbacks to push this matchup one way or another. EDGE: Even
  • RECEIVING. Moye and Brown are the clear leaders on the Lions (though it should be noted that 17 players have at least one reception this year). For the Hawkeyes, things are a little more spread out, with four players having 11+ catches. McNutt is the third best in the conference in yards per game, but it's tough to beat Moye and Brown when they're hot. Still, these units are pretty evenly matched. EDGE: Even
  • DEFENSE. Well this one isn't close. In no category (Rushing D, Passing D, Scoring D, Total D) does Penn State fare worse than 24th in the country, while Iowa doesn't break the Top 50 in any. This should be the story of the game, Penn State's unmovable object (Offense) vs. Iowa's movable object (Defense). EDGE: Penn State
  • COACHING. I went to high school with Kirk Ferentz' niece, and the rest of what I know about Iowa's coaching staff is limited to the amputated foot. These coaches have had Penn State's number recently, winning 9 of the last 11 matchups. But then there is Joe; for as much guff as he (deservedly or not) gets as of late, he's still a legend. EDGE: Penn State

And finally, the rankings. If you throw out the high and low for Penn State, and put Peter Wolfe's ranking, which won't be out for two more weeks, at the average of the remaining ranks, Penn State comes into this matchup a 28th ranked team with the computers, while Iowa is just outside the Top 40 at 42. A win on Saturday and again against Purdue the following week, and Penn State should be on the bubble of premiering in the BCS Standings when they are released October 16.

Penn State 33 30 28 N/A 22 38 N/A 20 34 28
Iowa N/A 37 45 N/A 29 42 N/A 44 43 40