STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — It was pretty clear early how this would turn out. Iowa couldn’t stop No. 12 Penn State. The only question was what the final score would be.
It ended up 41-14 as the Nittany Lions (7-3, 5-1 Big Ten) gained 599 total yards and picked up their fifth straight victory.
Penn State quickly asserted its dominance, needing only six plays to score on its first possession. The Nittany Lions would outgain the Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-3) 143-41. Things never changed in the first half as Penn State went into intermission 24-7.
Penn State RB Saquon Barkley rushed for 167 yard and one touchdown. He also hauled in a reception for a 44-yard touchdown.
Five things we learned
- There was no answer for the Penn State offense. The Nittany Lions moved the ball with ease on the ground and in the air. Iowa allowed 599 total yards. It’s the most allowed this season, topping the 512 yards Purdue gained in October. The Nittany Lions offense made sure this one wasn’t close.
- Penn State exposed the biggest issues with the Iowa defense — the play at safety and outside linebacker, especially in space. A bad angle to Barkley from an Iowa safety allowed Barkley to spring free for a 57-yard touchdown. Iowa linebackers jumped a run play that never happened to allow Penn State TE Mike Gesicki to get behind the defense for a 43-yard reception that set up another touchdown.
- The Penn State defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and it led to the Nittany Lions dominating on defense as on offense. Iowa gained only 234 yards. There wasn’t much room in the running game or space in the passing game. Penn State sacked Iowa QB C.J. Beathard four times.
- Changes in the passing game didn’t produce much of a result on the field. There were some personnel moves (WR Adrian Falconer saw more reps) and a few more pass routes down field, but the outcome was the same. Iowa threw for 204 yards and receivers struggled to get open. The issues plaguing the passing game since WR Matt VandeBerg went down are still there.
- Iowa did use RB Akrum Wadley in the slot. The move didn’t jump start the passing attack like the Hawkeyes hoped. It didn’t help that Iowa primarily used Wadley as a ball carrier when lined in the slot. His first two snaps at receiver were jet sweeps that went for 3 total yards.
The Nittany Lions led 7-0. It was third-and-5 on their 43. The ball went to Barkley. He broke tackles and wove through the defense on his way to a 57-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Penn State would run away with the game from there.
Penn State moved the ball and scored on Iowa. How will the Hawkeyes stop No. 2 Michigan next week? Michigan is the top scoring offense in the Big Ten, averaging 47.8 points.
Any lingering doubt about where Iowa stood in relation to the top teams in the league was answered on Saturday. There are too many holes and problem areas for the Hawkeyes, and the Nittany Lions exposed nearly all of them.
The Nittany Lions averaged 8.6 yards per play. The Hawkeyes only averaged 4.5 yards per play. Penn State entered the game last in the country in third-down conversion rate. The Nittany Lions converted 53.8 percent of their third downs on Saturday. Iowa only converted 20 percent of its third downs.
What it means
Things will only get tougher for Iowa if it can’t figure out what went wrong at Penn State.
The mini-gauntlet against some of the top teams from the Big Ten East division continues with the biggest home contest of the season. Michigan (9-0) comes to Kinnick Stadium on Nov. 12.