Game Grades: Iowa
No. 12 Penn State (6-0, 3-0) got a huge win on the road over No. 17 Iowa (4-2, 1-2) on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium. It was the Nittany Lions’ first win over a ranked team on the road in the James Franklin era. Here are the grades from Saturday night’s game for each Penn State unit:
The offense looked shaky early on and only scored 17 points, but it showed a lot of good signs as well. The offense showed it could sustain drives running the ball, scoring on a 15-play drive in the second quarter. Sustaining long drives is something that the Nittany Lions have had trouble doing in the Ricky Rahne era. They were also able to run out the clock by running the ball at the end: something that they couldn’t do last year. Other than a couple of sacks, the offensive line played very well. Noah Cain stood as the true number one running back for the Nittany Lions. Sean Clifford looked rattled early, but settled in later. Overall, this was a good night for the Penn State offense.
The defense showed its dominance again like it has all season. The defensive line, although it only recorded two sacks, got pressure on Nate Stanley all night. Robert Windsor was the star of the game, as it seemed like the Hawkeyes’ offensive line had no answer for him. The defense also forced two turnovers, and both were huge. PJ Mustipher’s forced fumble set up a Penn State field goal, and a Jaquan Brisker interception set up the touchdown that put the game away.
Special Teams: B+
Blake Gillikin was one of Penn State’s biggest weapons of the night, twice pinning the Hawkeyes inside their own 5-yard line. In a defensive battle, field position is always important, and Gillikin helped Penn State win that battle. Jake Pinegar made his only field goal attempt of the night, and the Nittany Lions kickoff coverage team was great. The only special teams concern is that it still can’t get a consistent return game going.
Penn State had eight penalties for 80 yards, which is something that the Nittany Lions can’t make a habit of going forward. Some of the play calling was a bit questionable at the beginning of the game, but the second-half game plan was pretty much perfect. The Nittany Lions dominated after halftime adjustments, which is something they have done a couple times this year. This was the Nittany Lions’ first real test, and they passed. There are a lot more tests to come.
Kevin McConlogue is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.