Five Things We Learned: Iowa
The No. 10 Nittany Lions were able to hold on against No. 17 Iowa 17-12 to give James Franklin his first road victory as Penn State’s head coach against a Top 25 team. Here are five things we learned:
Penn State can win on the road against a tough opponent
This seems obvious enough, but this will be important later in the season when the Nittany Lions head to Columbus. Running back Noah Cain seemed unaffected by the wild Kinnick Stadium crowd, recording 102 yards rushing and a touchdown. The same can be said for receiver KJ Hamler, who scored the first touchdown of the game on an impressive catch. The defense looked just as good on Saturday night as they have at Beaver Stadium all season long. Although Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley threw for 286 yards, he never looked comfortable in the pocket.
The Nittany Lions will have to play with the same swagger against Ohio State later this year if they want a chance at the Big Ten Championship game or the College Football Playoff.
Noah Cain is Penn State’s lead back
Coach Franklin doesn’t want to admit it yet, but he has found Penn State’s next big running back. Cain carried the ball 22 times for 102 yards, while the rest of the rushing committee in Devyn Ford, Journey Brown and Ricky Slade had a combined 12 carries for 41 yards.
It appears that Franklin wanted to give every back a shot early this season to find out which one the team could rely on in critical moments. It’s clear that Cain should be his choice.
Penn State can rely on star players other than Sean Clifford
Despite Clifford throwing only 12 completions on 24 attempts for 117 yards and one touchdown, many other players stepped up to give the Nittany Lions the victory. The aforementioned Cain and Hamler picked it up on the offensive side, and the defensive front seven had another impressive game, applying pressure to Stanley all night long and forcing two turnovers.
Clifford will have to improve for the next few tough opponents, but it’s a good omen that the Nittany Lions didn’t need him to have a career game for them to win last night.
The Wild Dogs don’t need to rely on Yetur Gross-Matos
Senior defensive tackle Robert Windsor had one of the best games of his college career with 1 ½ sacks, 2 ½ stops for a loss and six total tackles. Windsor was also a big factor in the Jaquan Brisker interception that sealed the deal late in the fourth quarter. Iowa was down by four with possession when Windsor tackled Stanley before he was able to release the ball.
With a quieter game from Gross-Matos, the entire front seven proved Saturday night that it is among the elite groups in the country.
Penn State is an elite Big Ten team
Wisconsin and Ohio State are probably ahead of the Nittany Lions for now, but that could all change when Penn State heads to Columbus later this season. That game should be closer than many think, and if the Nittany Lions come out with a win, they should be seen as a top-five team in all of college football.
Jack McCune is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.