Since the end of the Paterno era, Iowa games have not been close. The Nittany Lions are simply no longer interested in getting in a rock fight anymore, as a result games have been decided relatively quickly. Conversely, this season's contests have not proven very challenging thus far, but going to Iowa City for a night game to open your road slate is certainly ramping up the difficulty. If Trace has a game where he can't quite find his touch, this contest may be closer than we've been accustomed in the past few years, otherwise we should largely be following the same script.
Penn State 41, Iowa 20
The only way Penn State loses this game is if Penn State beats Penn State. Looking at the personnel groups, the Nittany Lions have a better quarterback, better running backs, better receivers, OL is a wash, DL is a wash, Iowa wins the LB battle and Penn State has the better secondary. This really shouldn't even be close as long as Joe Moorhead gets his playmakers in space and, luckily for us, Joe Moorhead always gets his playmakers in space.
Penn State 38, Iowa 20
As we've seen through Kirk Ferentz's tenure, he's done a good job of beating teams that play a similar style to Iowa -- i.e. Penn State in the late 2000s or Michigan last year. If you can spread Iowa out and out-athlete them, you should be okay. Fortunately, Penn State should be able to do that. I don't think it'll be a blowout, but the Nittany Lions will pick up an impressive road victory.
Penn State 39, Iowa 23
This isn't the Kinnick Stadium visits of 2000-2010 where Penn State will struggle with a vanilla offense (and not many explosive plays) and a defense that gives up third and long plays when it matters.
With that said, Akrum Wadley is pretty much all I'm concerned about. If the defense can shut him down, the Nittany Lions should be fine. Josey Jewell is good, but he's not stop Saquon good.
Penn State uses its abundance of playmakers to get past Iowa.
Penn State 35, Iowa 17
The fact that this is a night game at Kinnick Stadium, and that the Hawkeyes sport quite possibly the best running back in the B1G not named Saquon Barkley, will make this one somewhat difficult. That being said, this is a game that I have never been terribly worried about (unlike a lot of PSU fans). PSU stymied Kirk Ferentz with the Bill O'Brien Patriots-style offense in 2012, and stymied him again last year with Joe Moorhead's system. People will point to Iowa's upset over Michigan last year or all the times prior in the 2000's when PSU lost to the Hawkeyes and to that I say, all of those teams had more traditional, predictable, conservative offenses that played right into Ferentz's hands. Furthermore, Iowa hasn't shown that they can handle quick-tempo spread offenses with the type of talented skill players that PSU sports. I'll believe that Kirk Ferentz can beat PSU sans Paterno when I see it.
Penn State 42, Iowa 20
No matter what my fellow bloggers say, I'll always have flashbacks to 2004 and 2008. I will always, always, ALWAYS be leery of Kinnick Stadium at night, as there's some sort of voodoo going on there. That being said, I like Penn State's chances. After a lot of soul-searching, and trying to figure out Penn State's offensive identity, I've figured out what the Lions want to do on offense: score points. Perhaps a team takes a way the inside run, or stymies the run game in general - then McSorley, Moorhead, and Co. will sling the ball around, including using Barkley as a receiver. Tough red zone D? Behemoth Gesicki with the mismatch. We may never be great at third downs, and we may never be great at time of possession, but we are already great at scoring points. I'll take it.
Penn State 42, Iowa 17
PSU leads at the half due to a pair of Barkley and Gesicki touchdowns, and rolls the Hawkeyes in the second half with scores from everyone from Trace McSorley to DaeSean Hamilton.
Penn State 42, Iowa 24
Iowa presents the toughest defense that Penn State has faced thus far as well as an offense that can run the ball and test the Lions' secondary. After three games, I'm not too sure about these Hawkeyes, but they appear to be a challenger for the top spot in the West Division. If that's right, this should be a competitive game with Saquon Barkley's expanded role in the passing game helping Penn State overcome an electric atmosphere at Kinnick Stadium.
Penn State 31, Iowa 24
Year 2017 travels to Iowa City to play Year 1985.
PSU 42, Iowa 24
I don’t think we’re giving enough credit to Iowa. The 2008 offense was not “three yards and a cloud of dust.” The 2009 offense was not “three yards and a cloud of dust.” None of Nebraska’s offenses have been “three yards and a cloud of dust.” Iowa found a way to beat all of them. Because, the issue with our previous staff and Ferentz were never about what type of offenses were run*, but what mentality went into the games.
In 2009, Penn State took a 10-0 lead and decided, because of weather maybe**, that said lead would be large enough. They lost. In 2011, a game Penn State won, they decided that a 10-3 lead was enough. That was mainly the problem with our previous staff, more so than its inability to execute.
Now we move on to this year, where Iowa has already seen two teams that play a style similar to that of Penn State’s. Iowa has responded by going score for score with them, and either 1) outlasting them in overtime, or 2) overwhelming them in the second half. The difference, of course, is that Penn State is more talented than both of those teams, and that a 10-point lead won’t be viewed as sufficient.
Penn State 56, Iowa 17
Though Kirk Ferentz's Hawkeyes are still a bit of a boogeyman for most Penn State fans, the Lions are running a three-game winning streak against Iowa, with those wins coming under three different PSU coaches. Last year's drubbing in Happy Valley is no doubt on the mind of Iowa's team and fans, though the Hawkeyes more than made up for it the week after when they dashed Michigan's Big Ten title hopes. A night game “stripe-out” in Kinnick is never easy, though the Lions made it look that way the last time. This year, Iowa is simply not as talented. It should be a good one, even though many Hawk fans aren't optimistic.
PLAYER ON THE SPOT: Saquon Barkley. Is it possible for a Heisman candidate to be on the spot? It is when members of the Iowa media contingent say publicly that the way to beat PSU's offense is to shut down Barkley. Whether the (arguably) best player in college football can break free when a legit Big Ten defense is keying on him will be something to watch this week.
DON’T BE SURPRISED IF … Penn State loses the time of possession battle -- big.
PREDICTION: James Franklin is able to get his players hyped up when needed. Iowa's defense is legit, but Penn State's offense should be too much for Josey Jewell (arguably the best linebacker in the conference) and Co. On the other side, Penn State's defense has quietly become very, very good, with a deep rotation that will help knowing they'll be on the field much longer than most defenses. The talent and depth should win out by breaking away in the second half.
Penn State 45, Iowa 20
This week has been a battle between the logical and illogical portions of my brain (which, for the record, is mostly comprised of portions of the latter and a delicious goo). The logical side looks at this match-up and is confident the Nittany Lions can easily outpace the Hawkeyes. But then there’s the part of me that keeps replaying all of the horrifying, heartbreaking moments against Iowa that stretched from my childhood into adulthood.
I’ll go with the logical side and predict a satisfying victory for Penn State, with the Hawkeyes keeping it close into the second half before Penn State begins to pull away in the third quarter.
Barkley is his usual self with 200 yards from scrimmage, with Juwan Johnson and Mike Gesicki reeling in touchdowns. For the second year in a row, Tommy Stevens plows through several Iowa defenders on his way to the end zone. The defense comes up big in the second half, with Shareef Miller forcing a fumble and Christian Campbell picking off a pass in the fourth quarter to help seal the ‘W’ for the Nittany Lions.
Penn State 31, Iowa 17
*2004 didn’t have an offense, making them the exception.
**It wasn’t because of weather.