Penn State vs. Iowa Game Preview

Story posted October 8, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Logan Bourandas

Arguably the biggest game of the season has arrived for the No. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions as they travel to Kinnick Stadium to take on the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes.

Both teams have played a similar style of football during the first five games of the season as they rely on their elite defense and a run-first approach offensively.

Aside from last season's 41-21 Iowa victory, matchups between the two teams have often been close including a 17-12 Penn State win in 2019 which was the last time these two teams played at Kinnick Stadium.

Since that 41-21 game in 2020 however, the Nittany Lions have won nine straight games including four to end that 2020 season. The Hawkeyes have won eleven straight games dating back to 2020 meaning both teams have year-long winning streaks on the line.

Penn State head coach James Franklin said in his opening statement on Tuesday that this Hawkeyes team is one of the best when it comes to the fundamentals.

“You look on tape and who they are this year, for the most part, is who they were last year and the years before that and their kids are sound,” Franklin said. “They line up and they're sound, they're never out of position, they play fast, they play aggressively, they play with great confidence. Because they're allowing them to line up and play.”

That Penn State win against Iowa in 2019 was also the last time running back Noah Cain rushed for over 100 yards as he picked up 102 yards and a touchdown.

Cain has struggled with injuries and regaining that number one running back role since then, offensive tackle Rasheed Walker noted it would mean a lot if Cain can find one of those performances again this season.

“It would be amazing, we want to see all the running backs eat but I remember that game against Iowa in 2019 and Noah did his thing,” Walker said. “He works hard and he’s excited for the game coming up so he’s heard about it and all the running backs just want to give it their all.”

While both teams operate in that run-first offensive attack, the battle defensively will be the one to look out for during the game.

Both defenses rank near the top in all of college football but for the Nittany Lions, it’s a chance to face a Hawkeyes team that ranks first in turnover margin with 12.

The Nittany Lions aren’t behind by much as they sit tied for 13th with a 6 for turnover margin but for safety Ji’Ayir Brown, who leads the team with three interceptions, it’s a chance to prove that the blue and white have one of the best secondaries in college football.

“It’s a chance to go out there and try to be the best secondary we can be, to try and get that number one spot as a secondary unit which we all want,” Brown said. “Iowa’s currently leading right now and it’s a great opportunity for us to go out there and try to put on a great show for the fans.”

That show will start on Saturday at 4 p.m. in Kinnick Stadium as the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes battle it out on FOX Sports.

Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email lxb5412@psu.edu.