Five Things We Learned: Iowa
No. 17 Penn State beat No. 18 Iowa 30-24 in a thrilling game on Saturday afternoon at a cold and wet Beaver Stadium. The Nittany Lions became bowl eligible for the fifth consecutive season by moving to 6-2 overall with a 3-2 record in conference play.
Next Saturday, Penn State will travel to Ann Arbor, MI for a matchup with the No. 5 Michigan Wolverines. Here are five things we learned from the matchup with Iowa.
1. This team is capable of holding onto a fourth-quarter lead
When Penn State had a two-score lead in the second half, everyone in the stadium was thinking, can it finally hold on in this spot? Penn State made everyone nervous again with a lost fumble at the Iowa 10-yard line and a Trace McSorley interception that was returned for a touchdown. Unlike the past couple games, however, the defense made plays when it had to. This team always makes people sweat, but the Nittany Lions pulled it out on Saturday.
2. The Penn State defense played its best game of the season
The Nittany Lions defense did not allow a touchdown all day, which is remarkable considering the Hawkeyes still scored 24 points. Yetur Gross-Matos and John Reid had big games for Penn State on the defensive side of the ball. Unlike the past couple of games, however, they made the big play when it mattered. Nick Scott intercepted Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley at the goal line when it looked like the Hawkeyes were about to score the go-ahead touchdown. It was definitely one of the plays of the game and maybe one of the biggest plays of Penn State’s season.
3. Special teams was good, bad and ugly throughout the game
The good was Jake Pinegar. He was three for three kicking field goals hitting from 45, 49 and 44 yards. This game was a definite confidence booster for the true freshman kicker. KJ Hamler also had a 67-yard kickoff return when the Nittany Lions needed a boost. The bad was that Penn State was beaten by another special teams trick play that resulted in a touchdown, which is becoming a theme against Penn State. The ugly was the two bad snaps on punts that both resulted in Iowa safeties. This unit has been all over the map this season and Saturday was no different.
4. We are slowly starting to see the true freshman in game action
Coach Franklin said this week that we might Penn State’s trio of talented true freshman wide receivers, Jahan Dotson, Justin Shorter and Daniel George were all dressed this week. Dotson had two receptions for 21 yards, including a big fourth-down catch. Shorter and George did not see the field for Penn State, however. Franklin might want to use this year as a redshirt season for the young receivers. Every Penn State fan is still excited to see what these young players have in store for the future.
5. That was one of the gutsiest performances of Trace McSorley’s career
We’ve seen a lot of gutsy performances from Penn State’s star quarterback in his three seasons as the starter, but none of them might have been as gutsy as Saturday. McSorley had to come out of the game for a couple drives after a pretty bad looking knee injury. He then returns to the game and runs for a 51-yard touchdown on a bad knee, a play that proved to be huge for Penn State. Trace McSorley adds another good performance to his historic Penn State career.
Kevin McConlogue is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism with a minor in political science. To contact him email email@example.com.