As a Penn State fan, Iowa always seems to raise your anxiety level, particularly on the road. The reality is that was a Paterno problem. This Penn State team is fast and talented, but young. The offense will probably be a bit sloppy and have a couple turnovers to help keep Iowa in the game, but should still manage to find points. The defense, on the other hand, should end up taking more from Iowa, than the offense gives and hopefully keeps the crowd largely out of the game. That being said, you can never rule out a close game in Kinnick.
Penn State 41, Iowa 17
Let me get one thing out of the way up front: Kinnick, especially at night, is where dreams go to die. Top 10 teams enter, and leave broken and battered. Kinnick has some sort of weird witchcraft voodoo about it, that will always make it a tough venue, particularly at night.
Yet I am unafraid.
Iowa is a known commodity - they play excellent defense, and manball you to death on offense. They will gleefully punt the ball to you, each time pinning you farther and farther into your own half of the field, stifling your offense, until you make a mistake. A turnover, a botched punt, an untimely penalty. Then they pounce. They get a score, and start the process over again. Their offense is not particularly dangerous, but if it can run the ball, it will contribute to that python-like suffocation that Kirk Ferentz so loves.
This Penn State team is that Iowa team’s kryptonite.
The offense is dynamic. It is not without its warts, but it can move the ball in many different ways. It doesn’t rely on a single facet of offense to be successful. Deep passes, run-pass options, screens, QB keepers, straight power running. The Penn State offense will score some points, regardless of who they face. Iowa may try to pin Penn State deep, but the offense will at least claw its way back toward midfield, thus pinning Iowa deep in their half of the field.
The defense is stifling. Iowa wants to run the ball - Penn State does not allow teams to run. Iowa will have to pass the ball, and Nate Stanley just isn’t a good enough passer to lead Iowa through the air to victory. An Iowa team that can’t pin a team deep near its own endzone, that can’t run, and isn’t particularly good against the pass is going to have a tough time, regardless of whatever black magic goes on at Kinnick at night.
Penn State 35, Iowa 14
I’ll be the first (of many, I’m sure) that unlike Mr. Lucia, Kinnick at night scares the crap out of me. I remember listening to my OSU friend’s phone PBP of the last minutes of the 2008 PSU-Iowa game, and that combined with the way the second half of the 2017 contest unfolded has me more than a little concerned.
With that said, this Penn State team is better than it was in 2017, the Iowa offense is worse, and their defense is not as good as it was in either 2017 or 2018. Nate Stanley has really struggled to turn in a consistent outing, and Gross-Matos, Toney, Oweh, and the rest should dominate at the LOS.
Offensively, Penn State might struggle initially, but once Clifford gets control of the offense and starts slinging it to Dotson, Free Moose, and Hamler, the Nittany Lions should do just enough to get the win.
Penn State 28, Iowa 17
Kinnick Stadium at night is terrifying, especially for a top 10 team. Remember 2008? 2017? Yeah, it can be not fun!
While night games at Kinnick can be unpredictable, one thing you can predict is crazy things happening because that’s what happens when Penn State and Iowa play. You can bet some money on there being something like two safeties and 5 or 6 combined field goals in this game.
Prior to the season this is a game I had pegged as a loss. However, Iowa’s offense and vaunted pass rush have both struggled immensely. Additionally, Penn State’s offense is further along than I had anticipated at this point in the season. That said, you can throw all of that out the window because nothing makes sense at Kinnick Stadium and it’s where good teams go to die.
We will find out a lot about this Nittany Lions group in the next three weeks. That three week stretch starts with Penn State defeating Iowa for the 6th consecutive time and James Franklin gets his first road win against a ranked team as Penn State head coach.
Penn State 23, Iowa 19
Much like Chris Lucia, I have determined that I am not scared of the Kinnick Voodoo, even if we are in the middle of #SpookySZN. While I understand that the better team does not always win in Kinnick at night, I think Penn State might be pretty widely superior. Nate Stanley is objectively bad and doesn’t have the security blankets that he did last year with two first-round picks at tight end, which is absurd. Iowa’s defense is solid, but this will be the best offense it has faced by far. Penn State just has too many weapons and too many ways to win.
Penn State 31, Iowa 13
After barely escaping with the dub two years ago despite dominating on the stat sheet, I am a firm believer in the Kinnick Stadium magic. That being said, this PSU defense is faster and deeper than it was the last time PSU visited Iowa City, and they will stifle the Iowa run game, forcing Nate Stanley to beat them with his arm. Even with a pair of NFL first round tight ends last year, Stanley struggled mightily against the PSU D. Not to mention Stanley is a statue and if the Wild Dogs or the linebackers are able to pressure him, it’s truly going to be a long night for Iowa’s offense. While Iowa’s defense will keep PSU’s offense relatively in check, I still trust the PSU O to come up with enough explosive plays to get in the end zone, come away with a FG or two, or at the very least, pin Iowa in bad field position. It also wouldn’t shock me to see a safety or two, which leads to a weird-looking final score.
Penn State 22, Iowa 15
I know I’m supposed to be scared of this game, and for good reason. Iowa turns into a monster at night at its own house. Penn State has been the victim of that monster in the past, most recently being the game that derailed their BCS championship run. Let me remind you that “most recently” here is 11 years ago. Penn State and Iowa have played almost every year since then. Iowa has not beaten Penn State since 2010. They came close two years ago, but somehow I think that’s as close as they’ll get.
Penn State 56, Iowa 17
I try my best to put aside any biases, history, and everything else aside when making these predictions and focus solely on how these teams will match-up on the field. However, my brain just won’t allow that to happen with a night game in Kinnick on the horizon.
Before you get on my case about predicting 18 points for Iowa, let me say this- they played uncharacteristic last week with several dropped passes and untimely penalties that proved costly. While Michigan played an outstanding game on defense, the Hawkeyes measly three points on the afternoon was in large part due to them constantly shooting themselves in the foot. Secondly, something weird is going to happen in this game (again, Kinnick at night). They’ll get a safety and then return the free kick for a touchdown, or they’ll return a fumble for a touchdown after everyone though the play was dead, they’ll get a pick-six on a ball that bounces off someone’s hands, or they’ll score after mistakenly given an extra down. Something will happen that keeps Iowa in this game.
So while I think Penn State will outmatch the Hawkeyes, limiting their points and out-dueling the Hawkeyes offense, Iowa will do what they always seem to do in these contests- keep it tight, find ways to make a big play or two, and put themselves in a situation to come away with a victory in the closing moments. The Nittany Lions will escape with the ‘W’, but it will be a nerve-wracking three hours for fans in blue and white.
I’m not expecting an offensive explosion, but the Nittany Lions put together some nice drives and Pat Freiermuth and Jahan Dotson each contribute touchdowns, with Noah Cain leading the way with 60 yards rushing and a score. The defense will again steal the show, getting in Stanley’s face and keeping the Hawkeyes ground game in check. Shaka Toney continues his hot streak with two sacks, Cam Brown leads the way with nine tackles, and John Reid comes away with a clutch fourth quarter interception to propel the Nittany Lions to victory.
Penn State 26, Iowa 18