So far this year, Penn State is 0-2 in big time Big Ten duals, losing pretty easily at Ohio State, and by one point in Rec Hall to Minnesota. This week, they take on #1 Iowa in probably the stiffest test to date this season--and in front of a marquee crowd.
The Hawkeyes absolutely dominated the Gophers last week, albeit without all of UM's starters, and are really, really strong with rankings at every weight--and almost all of them top-ten. It's going to be tough slogging ahead for Cael and Co, but the large, friendly crowd can help.
Date/Time: Sunday, 1 pm ET
TV/Video: Big Ten Network (finally), and airing live on BTN2Go
Audio: Available through PSU All-Access, with Byers' radio call available through the normal 20+ radio stations as per usual
Last Meeting: Last year, Penn State went to Iowa City in a non-conference matchup that the two coaches pulled together basically on twitter when the Big Ten conference was dumb and didn't schedule the two teams to meet. The Lions came out victorious--pretty surprisingly easily in point of fact, with number one taking down number two by double digits. This year the good guys probably won't have as much fun.
Onto the matchups...there's no matches of the meet here, as almost every matchup will be one to watch.
#8 Jordan Conaway vs #5 SO Thomas Gilman (Council Bluffs, IA)
Here's the deal: this weight will go a long way to determine how the day will go. Gilman is good, but how good is he? He lost the first place match at the Midlands to Tech's Joey Dance--whom Conaway upset earlier this year. But Gilman also has impressive wins on his season resume over Ohio Stat'es Tomasello, who majored Jordan, and OK State's Eddie Klimara, who Jordan will face next weekend. Conaway has the skill and coaching to pull off the upset here--but I just don't think he's there yet.
Line: Gilman by Dec (Iowa 3, Penn State 0)
#7 Jimmy Gulibon vs #3 SO Cory Clark (Pleasant Hill, IA)
...Jimmy, on the other hand.
This would be a bigger upset. But would it really? Yes, yes it would--but Gulibon has shown fire this year, and has been the team's most improved. He thrives on the lights in State college, and was oh so close to beating Dardanes (and really should have), who fairly easily beat Clark last weekend--but that's kind of indicative of this matchup, because Clark and Gulibon have faced a lot of the same competition this year, and have had varying results on most of them. For some reason, I'm really feeling Jimmy on
Line: Gulibon by Dec (Tied at 3)
Kade Moss vs #6 SR Josh Dziewa (Yardley, PA)
After a four-match slump, Moss rebounded in a big way last weekend with a huge win over then-ranked George Fisher, and then over MSU's Turner...but Jevva is in another category, and though he's had some struggles himself at times this year (even at #6, Steiber TFed him at 0), he should win pretty easily. Moss's job is to not give up too many bonus points at this weight, in my opinion.
Line: Dziewa by MD (Iowa 7, Penn State3)
#18 Zack Beitz vs #2 FR Brandon Sorensen (Cedar Falls, IA)
Sorensen has two losses this year--to #1 Habat, of Edinboro, and to teammate Brody Grothus, who's redshirting this year.That's it, despite the tough schedule Iowa has had so far this year. Beitz has been up and down this year, with some great (and not-so-great) wins and questionable losses--but Sorensen, coming in off his redshirt season, is the best wrestler he's seen this year, and though I hope it will be close, I'm not expecting it to be.
Line: Sorensen by Dec (Iowa 10, Penn State 3)
#8 Dylan Alton OR Cody Law vs #14 SR Michael Kelly (Cedar Falls, IA)
Alton wasn't really needed last week against Michigan (and really not against MSU)--but against Iowa is a different story. If the Nittany Lions are to have a shot, Alton's gotta be in the lineup--and if he's not, Kelly should win it. If Dylan gets the nod, though, I like him here with this matchup.
Line: Alton by Dec OR Kelly by MD (Iowa 10, Penn State 6)
Garret Hammond vs #7 SR Nick Moore (Iowa City, IA)
On the plus side, Hammond kept Ohio State's Bo Jordan to a much closer decision than Moore did. Also on the plus side? Hammond seems to wrestle up (or down) to his competition--but he starts slow against the big guys, and can't seem to overcome early takedowns to keep himself in the match. If Moore gets the early TD here, as has been the case when Garret wrestles the best guys, he should be able to keep Hammond's offense in check.
Line: Moore by Dec (Iowa 13, Penn State 6)
#3 Matt Brown vs #2 SR Mike Evans (Enola, PA) OR SO Alex Meyer (Pleasant Hill, IA)
Would Matt winning here really be an upset? I'm not so sure. I like his chances (he's been essentially money since the BS call to end the VA Tech dual--except against Kokesh), plus Evans' pornstache just irritates the heck out of me.
Line: Hulk Hands by Dec (Iowa 13, Penn State 9)
#17 Matt McCutcheon vs #8 SO Sammy Brooks (Oak Park, IL)
Mouse getting pinned by Abounader on Friday still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The RSFR's journey doesn't get any easier this week, as Brooks came into this season underrated but has overperformed and exceeded many expectations for Iowa at this weight.
Line: Brooks by Dec (Iowa 16, Penn State 9)
#4 Morgan McIntosh vs #6 JR Nathan Burak (Colorado Springs, CO)
A few weeks ago, Burak was ranked higher than Morgan. But Morgan upset Minnesota's then-#1 Scott Schiller, and last week Burak lost to him--and their roles have been flipped. And though McIntosh's performances this year can be disappointing during the actual match, he still only has two losses on the year and somehow seems to be able to pull wins out--even if it's just when his opponent is dinged for stalling. This weekend should be no different, with the California guy working hometown advantage to his credit.
Line: Morgan by Dec (Iowa 16, Penn State 12)
#6 Jimmy Lawson OR Jon Gingrich vs #2 SR Bobby Telford
And so...it will come down to the shaved bears, and bonus points? But, unlike with the Hokies dual, our guy probably won't come out on top. Telford is really, really good, top five in the NCAAs in two of the last three years (he injury defaulted out of the tourney in 2013), and though Jimmy of all our wrestlers feeds off the energy of a home Penn State crowd, Telford is good enough to not be caught by Lawson's freight train double leg. It won't be pretty, either in this matchup or in the dual.
Line: Telford by Dec (Iowa 19, Penn State 12)
Overall versus Iowa:
No two ways about it...this Sunday won't be too pretty. Bonus points will come sparingly, if at all, and that may end up being the Lions' downfall--and how goes the lower weights will go the dual (if PSU can pull off more than one upset, there could be a favorable outcome). I'm not betting on it, however; best, case, if Alton wrestles, it'll be Iowa 19, Penn State 12.