Penn State is the unanimous selection for the No. 1 spot in our weekly Land of 10 Power Poll. The Nittany Lions claimed all 13 first-place votes, topping all Big Ten teams for a third consecutive week.
Penn State narrowly, and dramatically, avoided an upset loss on Saturday night in Iowa City, Iowa. The Nittany Lions trailed Iowa 19-15 with 1 minute, 42 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
Despite dominating its Big Ten opener in total yardage, field position and time of possession, Penn State struggled to finish series in Hawkeyes territory, managing 1 field goal on six first-half possessions that crossed midfield.
The Nittany Lions rallied late, led by a suddenly resurgent Trace McSorley. The redshirt junior quarterback led an 80-yard drive during those final 102 seconds, connecting with receiver Juwan Johnson for a game-winning touchdown toss as time expired. Penn State secured a huge road win that appeared in doubt late.
McSorley stepped up during the final drive, including a clutch fourth-down completion that extended the team’s opportunity. Ultimately, this was the Saquon Barkley show.
The junior running back set a program record with 358 all-purpose yards, as he also contributed as a receiver and kick returner. Barkley gained 211 rushing yards and 1 touchdown on 28 carries, adding 12 receptions for 94 yards.
A Barkley catch-and-run in the fourth quarter is the prominent play that helps propel him into top-tier territory when it comes to the Heisman Trophy race.
— Stephen Nelson (@Stephen__Nelson) September 24, 2017
Meanwhile, outside of two spectacular plays by Iowa running back Akrum Wadley, the Nittany Lions defense was dominant again. Penn State has allowed 4 touchdowns through four games and held the Hawkeyes to 1 first down deep into the first half.
Penn State continues to display a level of overall balance that a championship run requires, although the Nittany Lions have been unsuccessful on 4 field-goal attempts this season.
Penn State received a healthy dose of adversity Saturday night yet managed to overcome it in front of a hostile road crowd.
This was a test passed by the Nittany Lions, who many be better off long term for the experience. Immediately after the game, I broke down this matchup and discussed potential long-term implications.
Penn State has won 13 of 14 games. The only defeat was a 52-49 loss to USC in the Rose Bowl, where the Nittany Lions led by 14 points in the fourth quarter.
Big Ten competition returns to Beaver Stadium on Saturday, when Penn State hosts Indiana at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Week 4 Land of 10 Power Poll vote totals
1. Penn State (13 first-place votes) … 169 points
2. Ohio State … 148
3. Michigan … 146
4. Wisconsin … 135
5. Iowa … 115
T6. Indiana … 91
T6. Minnesota … 91
8. Purdue … 68
9. Maryland … 67
10. Northwestern … 58
11. Michigan State … 51
12. Nebraska … 30
13. Illinois … 12
14. Rutgers … 2