Much has been made lately about the Iowa Hawkeyes uncanny ability to beat the Penn St. Nittany Lions. It's rather Northwestern-esque, in fact. Only twice since 1995 has Penn State defeated Iowa on the football field. The first, 1999, by the last Penn State team (10-3) to reach a top-two ranking, against arguably the worst Iowa team (1-10) since the Nixon Administration; the other, 2007, by a group of Nittany Lions playing with a loaded--yet disgustingly underachieving--squad, against the worst Hawkeyes team (6-6) featuring an all-Ferentz-recruited roster.
This weekend will be 15 years (minus 11 days) since Iowa embarked on its campaign to piss off an entire generation of Penn State fans. In typical PSU-Iowa fashion, the first loss comes courtesy of one particular Hawkeye, who somehow unleashed a slew of big plays that left the crowd wondering "WTF?!"
1996 - Highlights via 'HawkeyeHistorian'
#10 Penn State (6-1, 1-1 Big Ten) vs Iowa (4-1, 2-0 Big Ten)
In cold, wet conditions, Iowa's Tim Dwight returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, then hauled in two passes for 77 yards, as the Hawkeyes beat a top-ten opponent on the road for the first time in six seasons. Penn State quarterback Wally Richardson completed 10 of 30 passes and a touchdown to Curtis Enis, but was sacked five times. The Nittany Lions outgained the Hawkeyes 323 to 260, with 16 first downs to just eight for Iowa. Iowa 21, Penn State 20
2000 - Highlights
Penn State (4-5, 3-2 Big Ten) vs Iowa (2-7, 2-3 Big Ten)
Considering Rashard Casey had just been cleared of charges he beat up an off-duty police officer, the senior quarterback played a really good game, throwing for 302 yards on 27 completions and one touchdown. Entering the second overtime period, Casey had attempted 51 passes. But his 52nd would end the game, as Iowa's Ryan Hansen hauled in a bobbled catch by Tony Stewart for the interception. The loss guaranteed Penn State a non-winning season, while Iowa finished with only three wins on the season. Iowa 26, Penn State 23 (2OT)
2001 - Highlights
Penn State (0-2, 0-0 Big Ten) at Iowa (2-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
Joe Paterno was pissed off (watch the video) after losing to Wisconsin at home, with Penn State gaining just over 100 total yards on offense. This also came after an opening day demolition at the hands of Miami. Iowa jumped out to a 21-5 lead, until Penn State mounted a mini-rally in the late third and fourth quarters. But a touchdown from Zack Mills to Bryant Johnson, followed later by a blocked punt returned by Larry Johnson for a touchdown, would not be enough. Iowa 24, Penn State 18
2002* - Highlights
#12 Penn State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs Iowa (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
In what could have ended as Penn State's largest and most dramatic comeback in its history, college football was placed on the fast track to enacting instant replay following this game. Penn State was roaring through its non-conference schedule, including a walloping of #8 Nebraska. Iowa, unsurprisingly, lost to Iowa State two weeks before this game. The Hawkeyes dominated the Nittany Lions, leading the home team 35-13 with just over eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. But Zack Mills (399 pass yards) put the offense on his shoulders to score 22 points in a span of 8:22 to force overtime. But three blown calls by the officials negated a crucial Penn State first down, while giving another to Iowa, lead to the now infamous "JoePa sprint" during postgame. Iowa 42, Penn State 35 (OT)
2003* - (no highlights available)
Penn State (2-5, 0-3 Big Ten) at #16 Iowa (5-2, 1-2)
In two trips to Iowa City, Penn State would rush for 71 yards... total. One of the most awful parts of this Penn State team was the run defense, and Iowa knew it. The Hawkeyes weathered an early pick-6 to grind down Penn State. It was only 12-7 at halftime, but a blocked punt for a touchdown turned a close game into one firmly in the hands of Iowa. Penn State went on to win only one more game, while Iowa finished at 10-2. Iowa 26, Penn State 14
2004* - Highlights
Penn State (2-4, 0-3) vs Iowa (4-2, 2-1)
For some reason, I believe Penn State was actually favored in this game. But the 2004 Nittany Lions would have none of it, as the offense did everything in its power to ensure Iowa won the game. Even as Kirk Ferentz now memorably took an intentional safety in Iowa's own end zone, knowing Penn State wouldn't do anything with the free kick, the home team didn't disappoint in its inability to do just that... anything. Iowa was held to 168 yards, but in turn smothered Penn State, allowing only 147 yards and forcing five turnovers. Iowa 6, Penn State 4
2008 - Highlights via NittanyWhiteOut
#3 Penn State (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten) at Iowa (5-4, 2-3 Big Ten)
A game lost for many reasons, one of the most interesting was that Joe Paterno refused to set up heaters on the sideline for his team. It makes sense to blame Penn State's frigid play on offense and defense on the lack of a warm break once in a while, especially considering Paterno himself was coaching from the protection of the press box. Still, holding a nine-point lead in the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions allowed Iowa to chip away. The Hawkeyes, aided by a very questionable drive-saving pass interference call, kicked a game-winning field goal with 0:01 remaining. Iowa 24, Penn State 23
2009 - Highlights via KCHawkeye02
#5 Penn State (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten) vs Iowa (3-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
It was time for revenge. Penn State hosted Iowa under the lights, looking forward to getting back at the Hawkeyes for pulling the massive upset a year before in Iowa City. Things started off fantastically for the home team, jumping out to a 10-0 lead on Daryll Clark's 79-yard touchdown pass on the first attempt of the game. But that would turn out to be Penn State's only point for the game, as Iowa slowly (again) chipped away at the Nittany Lions until the scoreboard favored the Hawkeyes. Leading 10-5 entering the fourth quarter, it almost felt like Penn State had already lost the game, something that would happen soon enough. Iowa 21, Penn State 10
2010 - Highlights via NittanyWhiteOut
#20 Penn State (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten) at #18 Iowa (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
New song, same album. With a young and dysfunctional team, Penn State somehow withstood the initial onslaught from Iowa's offense. But miscues in sideline communication, and failure to capitalize on any opportunity offered them, the Nittany Lions once again fell to the Hawkeyes. Penn State inched to a 17-3 deficit on the final play of the first half, then drove right down the field in the opening series of the third quarter. The momentum, if sustained, might have allowed Penn State to fight back the rest of the way, but the Lions were stuffed on fourth-and-goal from the one yard line. Iowa 24, Penn State 3
2011 - Highlights TBD
Penn State (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) vs Iowa (3-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Will it finally end?
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