Penn State went into the thunderdome and came out alive on Saturday night, topping Iowa 17-12 in front of a wild Hawkeyes crowd. These our are three biggest takeaways from that game.
1. John O’Neill and his crew should never work a Penn State game again
I try my hardest not to be “the refs” guy. But what we saw on Saturday night was absolutely abhorrent. Penn State fans already cringe when they hear the name John O’Neill after Nebraska in 2012 and Ohio State in 2014, but it may have reached a new level against Iowa.
O’Neill and his crew downright stole a touchdown from Pat Freiermuth on a ridiculous review. They handed Iowa momentum and in turn three points after a phantom holding call. Iowa was given a touchdown on a pass that hit the ground. John Reid was called for pass interference for being in the vicinity of an Iowa receiver, and Robert Windsor was held all night and never once got a call. The Hawkeyes had one penalty enforced for five yards, Penn State had eight for 80. It was gross negligence and I wouldn’t blame you if you screamed conspiracy.
2. My kingdom for Noah Cain
James Franklin listened to fans, media, and most importantly the game film. While he didn’t get the start (which is irrelevant, but we’ll talk about that on Monday), Cain carried the ball 22 times for 102 yards and the decisive touchdown. He had more than five times more than any other back and was bell cow in the fourth quarter. Despite how good Saquon Barkley and Miles Sanders were, it’s refreshing for the Nittany Lions to have a back that just runs downhill and hits the hole hard, particularly in the four-minute offense.
3. The Wild Dogs are laughably good
It wasn’t long ago that we were asking ourselves why Penn State’s vaunted defensive line wasn’t dominating games. Well, that’s long since over. We’ve seen Shaka Toney dominate. We’ve seen Yetur Gross-Matos dominate, and tonight we saw Robert Windsor dominate. Windsor was truly unblockable and had his best game in a Penn State jersey. The defensive tackles, particularly, lived in the Iowa backfield and turned the Hawkeyes into a one-dimensional team, which is a huge benefit when their quarterback is Nate Stanley.