Fourth ranked Penn State entered the game needing to validate their early ranking after a spell of non conference games against weaker opponents. The Nittany Lions stepped it up in a big way as Trace McSorley threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson as time expired to maintain the unblemished record.
The star of the contest was Saquon Barkley as he juked and jumped his way to 358 all purpose yards, setting a conference record.
Saquon Barkley is a cheat code. pic.twitter.com/h113EBSHRe— Alex Roux (@arouxBTN) September 24, 2017
His brilliant performance was evident from the beginning as the Nittany Lions kept feeding him the ball in the first quarter. The constant reps forced him out of the game at times and his extended time on the sideline left the Nittany Lions in a bit of a bind.
McSorley’s performance can definitely be qualified as a roller coaster with his calm demeanor during the game winning drive, but he struggled at times with the Iowa pass defense. His play calling in the red zone was suspect as the Nittany Lions struggled to get touchdowns, despite numerous trips inside the Iowa 10-yard line.
His 284 yards and a touchdown are decent numbers, but it took him 48 attempts to get there and his interception set up Iowa’s opening touchdown to end the first half. Ball security was also an issue as he fumbled twice, losing one of them.
The Iowa defense played a part in Penn State’s red zone struggles as the Hawkeyes were able to confuse the Nittany Lions in a short area.
Anthony Nelson was a one man wrecking crew as he recorded 2.5 sacks, blocked a field goal and batted down two passes. He dominated right tackle Andrew Nelson as he also got badly beaten by freshman A.J. Epenesa on McSorley’s lost fumble.
Josey Jewell was all over the field as he had 16 tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. His instincts helped Iowa contain Barkley on some plays, but the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year put Jewell on skates at times.
The offensive line really struggled to protect McSorley, forcing short throws to Mike Gesicki and Barkley throughout the night.
Penn State Defense
The defensive line play for Penn State was fantastic as they were constantly in the Hawkeye backfield on run plays. Akrum Wadley rushed for 80 yards on 19 carries, but was stifled for most of the game by an inspired Shareef Miller.
Wearing the number 19 for the injured Torrence Brown, Miller was unstoppable with two tackles for loss and forced the safety with Marcus Allen in the first half.
Allen made his mark on the game by dislodging the ball from Wadley just when Iowa was starting to move the ball. He was not the only Nittany Lion defensive back that had a good game as corner back Grant Haley recovered the fumble and had an interception overturned by replay.
The play of the secondary forced Nathan Stanley to make bad throws as he looked uncomfortable in the pocket. His two touchdowns look good, but one came on a 70 yard screen pass where Wadley made scampered through the Penn State defense.
Penn State will take its 4-0 record back to Happy Valley as to take on Indiana, while Iowa drops to 3-1 and travels to Michigan State.