Game Grades: Penn State vs. Iowa

Story posted October 10, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Logan Bourandas

As expected, the battle of unbeatens was a defensive struggle which came down to the final possession. The No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes were able to hold on to a 23-20 victory over No. 4 Penn State at Kinnick Stadium.

Let’s see how each position group performed in the Nittany Lions’ loss on Saturday.

Offense: D

There wasn’t much to be excited about regarding a normally efficient offensive unit.

Both quarterbacks Sean Clifford and Ta’Quan Roberson threw for two interceptions against a Hawkeyes defense which has been one of the best in the country so far this season.

Clifford would also lead the way in rushing yards with 36 as the Nittany Lions relied mostly on their quarterbacks in the ground game which produced little success.

Noah Cain, who had torched Iowa for 102 rushing yards back in 2019, only had 15 yards and a touchdown in the loss.

While the offense was moving the ball while Clifford was in the game, everything stalled the second the senior got hurt and was taken out of the game. Despite having two of the best receivers in the Big Ten in Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington, Roberson failed to gain any momentum as a 17-3 Penn State lead faded away.

DISCLAIMER: No false start penalties were called during the writing of this section.

Defense: B

Not much to complain about on the defensive side.

Against the No. 3 ranked team in the country, the Penn State defense only allowed 23 points on the road against the Hawkeyes. The same Hawkeyes team which put up 51 points against Maryland a week earlier.

Not to mention. key players such as PJ Mustipher, Jaquan Brisker and Arnold Ebiketie were either out for the game or out for a brief period of time when they got hurt.

The Nittany Lions were able to contain both the passing and rushing attacks well but it was the late game collapse which gives them a “B” rating for this week.

Coaching: D+

Despite Sean Clifford turning the ball over early on, the Nittany Lions did a good job in preventing a ton of damage off those turnovers and building an early lead.

It was when Clifford came out of the game, however, where the coaching staff began to make questionable decisions.

The offense called similar plays with Roberson at quarterback despite their difference in playing styles. Roberson looked uncomfortable all night and despite his inability to complete passes downfield, the offensive game plan remained the same.

The Nittany Lions had a real chance to win on Saturday even with all the injuries and changing up the game plan might have been all they needed to do.


Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email