2011 Penn State Football

 
Big Ten football fans

Penn State vs Iowa Hawkeyes Football Preview

 

Seven years ago, the Iowa Hawkeyes and Penn State Nittany Lions played one of the ugliest and most unwatchable college football games ever recorded, an offense-free slugfest that was an aesthetic disaster and an event that gives offensive coordinators ulcers, not to mention gray hair. When these two teams reunite at Beaver Stadium this weekend, they’ll be returning to the scene of a college football crime. What’s worse is that they might come close to replicating that sorry spectacle from 2004.

Yes, it is true that in the 2004 Big Ten season, a baseball game broke out in Happy Valley. The Hawkeyes held Penn State’s offense scoreless, making Kyle Schlicher’s two first-half field goals stand up for a 6-4 victory. Iowa gave the Nittany Lions their final points, taking a safety instead of punting from its own end zone late in the fourth quarter. The strategy was a poor one, since it gave PSU the chance to kick a field goal and snare a 7-6 win, but it worked perfectly when the Hawkeyes intercepted Penn State in a two-point contest.

The Hawkeyes went up 3-2 on that afternoon when Schlicher kicked a 27-yarder late in the first quarter. Sean Considine intercepted a pass by Penn State quarterback Zack Mills in the second quarter and returned it 53 yards to set up Schlicher’s second field goal, also a 27-yarder, that made the score 6-2 going into halftime. Iowa’s offense produced three points – the defense set up the other three, as shown by the Considine interception – and yet that was enough to win on a day when Penn State’s offense got shut out.

Penn State merchandise Indeed, despite the Hawkeyes’ offensive shortcomings, Penn State’s offense was even worse. Twice in the second half, the Nittany Lions had a first down inside the Iowa 10, but failed to score anything at all. PSU kicker Robbie Gould missed 25-yard field goal wide left in the third quarter, and Iowa’s Antwan Allen intercepted a pass by Nittany Lion quarterback Michael Robinson (who was platooning with Mills) at the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.

Will we see that kind of narrative unfold this week? Well, not exactly – it’s hard to see how Penn State could score two safeties. As for PSU getting shut out? That’s entirely possible. Meanwhile, although Iowa enjoyed a bye week last week and blasted Louisiana-Monroe, 45-17, in its most recent game, the Hawkeyes did get smothered by Pittsburgh to the tune of a 24-3 score through 40 minutes of football. Penn State’s defense is formidable, so if Iowa’s offense is not on its game, we not only could see, but should see, a very low-scoring stalemate.

Penn State won its conference opener 16-10 over Indiana, in a game that featured nearly 20 punts. A 74-yard third quarter touchdown pass from Matt McGloin to Derek Moye was the highlight of the game for Penn State, whose offense often failed to finish drives, allowing the Hoosiers to stick around. Penn State continues to use two quarterbacks, McGloin and Rob Bolden, who have combined for 1080 passing yards this season. In five games, that’s an incredibly paltry total, good for an average of just 216 yards per game. Moye (26 receptions, 443 yards, 3 touchdowns) and running back Silas Redd (91 carries, 432 yards, 4 touchdowns) are the Nittany Lions’ most productive offensive players. Through five games, those sets of numbers attached to each player are decidedly underwhelming.

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Three weeks ago, the Hawkeyes pulled off the biggest fourth quarter comeback in school history when they came back from a 27-10 deficit to beat Pittsburgh 31-27. Iowa will likely continue to use a no-huddle attack, led by junior quarterback James Vandenberg, who has thrown for ten touchdowns and has been intercepted just once this season. Vandenberg has completed 81 of 129 passes for 1095 yards. Iowa hopes that its tempo on offense can generate points and get Penn State’s front seven off balance. However, executing against the Nittany Lions will be a lot harder than performing against Louisiana-Monroe.

Marvin McNutt leads Iowa receivers with 25 catches for 413 yards and four touchdowns. Marcus Coker is the Hawkeyes’ top rusher with 380 yards and four touchdowns on 87 carries.

 

By Matt Zemek
DFN Sports Staff Writer

 

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