It was Military Appreciation Day at Beaver Stadium. Navy beat Notre Dame earlier in the day. And Penn State released it’s shock and awe weaponry on Iowa. The Lions devoured the Hawks to the tune of 41-14. And it really wasn’t that close.
The Hawkeyes were ranked as high as 13th in the AP poll (11th in the Coach’s poll), before North Dakota State went all Appalachian State over them in week 4. The Hawkeyes never recovered completely, dropping games to Northwestern and Wisconsin before coming into Beaver Stadium looking to prove themselves bowl worthy.
Of note, the Hawkeyes were only giving up 18.9 points per game. The most points they gave up so far this year was 38 to Northwestern. Penn State posted 599 total yards, scoring on their opening drive and never looking back.
Defensively, Penn State held the Hawks to 234 yards, and only 30 on the ground. THIRTY yards. On 26 carries, in case you thought they did nothing but pass the ball.
According to GoPSUsports, it is the first time since entering the Big Ten that PSU has held two consecutive Big Ten teams to 50 yards or less rushing. Penn State has now guaranteed its 12th consecutive winning season, something only four other teams have done in that span. (They don’t list those teams unfortunately.)
On special teams, we did have a blocked field goal that cost us 3 points, but otherwise, we played very solid. The return game, especially on kick offs, has vastly improved.
Iowa had the Big Ten’s leading kick off and punt returner. The Hawks managed to average 19.5 yards per return on kickoffs, and though PSU only punted TWICE, they had zero yards in punt returns. Put that in your pipe, but don’t inhale!
Penn State went into this game dead last in third down conversions, but despite Iowa’s supposedly good defense, we went 7-14 on that dreaded down which also helped us win time of possession 35 to 25 minutes.
The only thing we lost all day was the coin toss.
Saquon Barkley continues to impress and added a 57 yard scamper for Penn State’s second touchdown. He ran for 169 yards and had 211 all-purpose. He went over 1,000 yards for the season and is the 8th PSU back to have multiple 1,000 yard rushing season.
One of the big plays in this game, perhaps the turning point if you will, was Cabinda’s Arrington-esque leap to stop Iowa on a fourth down play on their opening drive after PSU took a 7-0 lead. Iowa was driving with a tying score in mind when this happened:
106,194 fans enjoyed an absolutely beautiful autumn evening in Happy Valley. The drum major stuck both flips. The half-time show honored our military. The Penn State glee club sang “God Bless America” and there was a USO performance as well.
Next up are the Indiana Hoosiers, who are coming off an amazing trouncing of Rutgers, 33-27. They lost to Ohio State, Nebraska and Northwestern, as well as Wake Forest. They beat MSU 24-21 in OT in the Big Ten opener, but the Spartans are 0-6 in conference play, and their only wins are against Furman and Notre Dame. Who would have thought their marquee victory would be Furman?
That’s not to say that this game is an automatic win for Penn State. If nothing else, the last five years should have taught us there are no automatic wins. Indiana played the Buckeyes tough for a half of a game. With the exception of Purdue, we haven’t played as well on the road, and it will be an early start (12 eastern.)
Without going into specifics, I predict a slow start, but a comfortable margin of victory when the final seconds tick off.
Penn State debuted at #12 in the College Football Playoff Rankings last week. They are already ranked 12th in the AP and 14th in the coach’s poll after beating Iowa. Nebraska, Texas A&M and Florida were all ranked ahead of us in the CFP ranking, so we could conceivably crack the top ten this week.
For the moment, Penn State is back. We are winning. We are improving each and every week (something that I did not see in Franklin’s first two seasons as PSU head coach.) We are ranked. How wonderful is that?! Every game left is WINNABLE, but not automatic. 10-2 is not unrealistic. This team is exciting. There is chemistry. They are fun to watch. They don’t give up when the chips are down or if they make a mistake.
Strap yourselves in. There are 3 more wild regular season rides to go.
GO STATE! BEAT HOOSIERS!