UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Iowa’s performance at Penn State resembled a trapped raccoon stuck in a cage with a bear.
There was nowhere to go early and the entire endeavor was filled with pain. Penn State mauled Iowa in a 60-minute bloodbath that mercifully ended 41-14.
Here are grades for Iowa following its loss to Penn State, on a scale from zero stars to five:
Offense (1 star)
Entering the game, the Hawkeyes had two running backs ranked in the Big Ten’s top 10, each with more than 620 yards rushing. They combined for 46 yards on 19 carries and the Hawkeyes rushed for 30 yards total.
Iowa’s passing game once again was stuck in neutral, and quarterback C.J. Beathard struggled to find any openings in Penn State’s defense. He was sacked four times.
Defense (0 stars)
This might be the worst defensive game Iowa has played under coach Kirk Ferentz, which is saying something. The Hawkeyes gave up 599 total yards, including 359 on the ground. Every Penn State non-quarterback rushed for at least 6.0 yards per carry.
Iowa failed to make up for its pathetic run-stopping effort with equally shoddy play against the pass. Three different receivers hauled in passes of at least 43 yards. Iowa looked too slow, too out of position and overmatched in every defensive aspect.
Special teams (2 stars)
The game’s tone was set from the opening kickoff when Penn State’s Miles Sanders returned it 48 yards. Desmond King didn’t generate anything of substance on his own kick returns.
Punter Ron Coluzzi averaged 40.2 yards on six punts. Iowa didn’t attempt any field goals and hit both extra-point attempts.
Coaching (0 stars)
Every coach on the staff was culpable in this disaster. Three times Iowa faced third-and-1/2 and lined up in two tight ends, a fullback, running back and one wide receiver and ran the football into the teeth of Penn State’s defense.
Iowa converted on none of the opportunities. On the defensive side, nothing worked early and it was lifeless at the end.
Overall (0 stars)
There was nothing redeeming about this game. In other losses, you could point to one aspect as competing or the coaching kept the Hawkeyes in the game (against Wisconsin).
But this effort was worse than any Iowa contest I’ve seen since the 2014 debacle at Minnesota. Iowa will have a tough time bouncing back from this lifeless performance, especially against a powerhouse Michigan squad next week.