There was a time when Iowa appearing on the schedule was reason enough for concern. Those times are past, it seems there remains a significant portion of the Penn State fan base that still lives in fear. The Nittany Lions have not been without their issues recently and I certainly don’t expect it all to be resolved in season for a variety of reasons, but some things do seem to be getting addressed in practice anyway. This offense is lost with playcalling and forgets a running game beyond Trace McSorley exists for substantial stretches of time, which would be less of an issue if drops weren’t on a pace to more than double last season’s totals. I expect to see more faces at receiver this week with and if any of them can catch the ball consistently, this could get ugly for some very overconfident Hawkeyes and their fans. The defense needs to let some of the far more talented youth get on the field and work through their own struggles that the upperclassmen have not been immune to themselves. It should also be noted that the offense finding their groove would take some of the pressure off the defense as well.
Penn State 35, Iowa 24
Despite the Nittany Lions getting back into the win column, I feel worse about the team than I did before last Saturday’s game against Indiana. Special teams continues to be an utter disaster, Ricky Rahne still does not seem to understand situational play calling or adjusting a game plan at all, the wide receivers still can’t catch the ball, and the run defense was shredded for the first time since a trip to Illinois last month.
Now, a good Iowa team comes to town. Unlike most years, this Iowa offense is built more around Nate Stanley and the passing game than their rushing attack. Which is a good matchup for Penn State’s defense. In typical Iowa fashion, however, they have a dominant defense. And that is what worries me most entering Saturday. Not having Garrett Taylor for the first half due to a BS targeting call in the second half against IU will be a big blow, too.
The Nittany Lions need to make some changes. Micah Parsons needs to replace Koa Farmer, who has become a liability and unplayable, at WILL. It is also time to give more reps to young receivers such as Cam Sullivan-Brown, Daniel George, Jahan Dotson, and Mac Hippenhammer.
Penn State’s offense has suddenly become the most worrisome part of this team. Partially due to drops by the wide receivers and partially due to the offensive coordinator I have a hard time trusting this Nittany Lion offense right now, and that is why I foresee them falling to 5-3 on Saturday afternoon.
Iowa 23, Penn State 20
Strangely, I have a sense of calm about this team at the moment. I don’t expect all of the woes plaguing the offense to suddenly disappear, but I’m getting this peaceful vibe that the offense will be okay this week. I agree that Koa Farmer needs to be the backup the rest of the way, and that Juwan Johnson and Brandon Polk should lose some snaps to the younger receivers. But overall, I’m feeling a little bit better than I was a week or two weeks ago.
Still, I do expect Penn State to struggle on both sides of the ball. Iowa has quietly put together a one-loss season, and a win would put them firmly in the driver’s seat for the Big Ten West crown - and perhaps even a playoff berth. The Hawkeyes are going to come to play. If Franklin has the cojones to make some much-needed personnel changes, the Lions will be all right. If he doubles down on the starters that have cost the team two games so far, it will be a long night.
Iowa 27, Penn State 21
I wish I were wrong but the Nittany Lions just aren’t playing well enough right now, even at home, to beat a strong Iowa defense. The game will be a passing game but with Penn State receivers squarely on the struggle bus this season, Iowa will edge ahead.
Iowa 21, Penn State 17
Since losing to Wisconsin in late September, Iowa has rolled off three straight victories over Minnesota, Indiana, and Maryland. Those opponents aren’t exactly a murderer’s row, but the Hawkeyes did well to take care of business, winning each game by more than two touchdowns. Meanwhile, Penn State’s inconsistent offense and leaky defense make beating any team by that much a difficult task. Iowa hasn’t beaten anyone impressive so far, but its solid defense and productive passing game make it a team that will be tough to put away. And we know how effective Penn State is at putting opponents away.
Iowa 22, Penn State 19
I don’t why and I don’t know how but I have a slightly good feeling about this weekend. I think Penn State finds a way to pull out a victory.
Penn State 24, Iowa 17
Penn State going 7-5 this season would very quickly undo a ton of the progress made over the last two seasons, particularly with building momentum in recruiting. For that reason, I think they somehow pull this out because I don’t want to have to process a scenario where the Nittany Lions don’t win this game.
Penn State 27, Iowa 21
Call it a hunch, but I think the youth movement at receiver with Cam Sullivan-Brown, Jahan Dotson, and perhaps even Justin Shorter getting more PT ends up paying dividends (as in the freshmen catch the damn ball). Furthermore, this Iowa offensive attack lacks its usual ground game and instead relies on its QB having time in the pocket to throw to his two stud tight ends. If the nasty weather or a more consistent PSU pass rush throws Iowa off their game, all bets are off. It’s hard to say it with a ton of confidence, but at the same time, I just have a gut feeling that PSU somehow ekes this one out.
Penn State 18, Iowa 17
I believe Penn State will win. Miles and Trace should carry (Ha!) the day given the unpleasant weather, and the defense will step it up.
That said, I’m picking Iowa. Too many bad memories from 6-4 and 2009.
Just kidding. This isn’t 2009, it’s TWO THOUSAND EIGHTEEN!!! I can’t pick against the Nittany Lions.
Penn State 24, Iowa 21
I will go down with the sinking ship before I pick Iowa over Trace McSorley. Believe that.
Penn State 21, Iowa 17
Dear Old State needs to get its head out of its collective rear end, or else we’re losing this game. Stop sleep walking, and starting fighting.
(originally appearing in the Game Preview)
Here’s the simple, plain truth about these two teams at this juncture- Iowa comes prepared each Saturday to put its best foot forward, while Penn State has been incredibly haphazard each week with regular mistakes. This will be a typical Big Ten game played in sloppy conditions, meaning it will come down to the little things like field position, turnovers, and minimizing costly mistakes. There’s no question which team has the advantage in that regard.
I expect this to be a close contest throughout with neither team taking a double-digit lead. However, Iowa makes the plays at the end to come out with a victory, while the Nittany Lions have a few costly mistakes that once again is the difference between a win and a loss.
Miles Sanders is his usual self, running for 120 and a touchdown, while McSorley chips in another 70 yards on the ground with a score, and tosses for another to Jahan Dotson, who finds the end zone for the first time as a Nittany Lion. Cam Brown leads the team in tackles with 10, while Yetur Gross-Matos builds off of last week’s strong performance with a sack and three TFLs.
Iowa 27, Penn State 21