October 13, 2012; East Lansing, MI, USA; Iowa Hawkeyes offensive linesman James Ferentz (53) and wide receiver Jacob Hillyer (17) celebrate after beating the Michigan State Spartans in overtime at Spartan Stadium. Iowa won 19-16 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-US PRESSWIRE

Penn State Preview: Who Are the Iowa Hawkeyes?


Penn State at Iowa
October 20, 2012
8:00 pm EST

University of Iowa 

Iowa City, Iowa

Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz (96-66 career)

2011 Record: 7-6

2012 Record: 4-2

Key Players: 

QB #16 James Vandenberg: Filled in for a game against Ohio State in 2010 and showed a glimpse into the future for Hawkeye fans. Last year he took over the starting job and lived up to that glimpse, throwing for 3,000 yards and 25 touchdowns, solidifying himself as the best pro-style quarterback in the conference. Has not been as successful this year.

RB #45 Mark Weisman: Started the season as a back up fullback, but  due to the AIRBHG, he has been forced into a ball-carrying spot. Weisman has made the most of his opportunity and has been the team’s best offensive player to this point. He’s carried the ball just 100 times, but has 631 yards and 8 touchdowns through the first 6 games.

LB #31 Anthony Hitchens: One of just a few players in the Big Ten averaging 10+ tackles per game, Hitchens is a beast in run support. He has 63 tackles on the year including 3 tackles for loss and will hear his name called often this Saturday.

SUMMARY:

The 2012 version of the Iowa Hawkeyes hasn’t been exactly what you’ve come to expect from Kirk Ferentz. Losses to Central Michigan and Iowa State highlight the deficiencies in this year’s team.

However, Iowa had their bye a week ago and may have used that time to regroup. They came out last Saturday and beat a solid Michigan State team in East Lansing, despite scoring just one touchdown.

Unlike last week, this is a team that Penn State is simply better than, offensively. I expect Bill O’Brien and Matt McGloin to give Iowa a steady dose of the hurry-up, “NASCAR” offense. If they can get the Hawkeyes on their toes, they have a chance to put this game away early.  However, Iowa is still a Kirk Ferentz-coached team so they are going to play hard for 60 minutes.

I expect a low scoring game but if Penn State can get up and neutralize the Iowa rushing attack, they could pull away. The Iowa rushing game and defense sort of mirror Penn State’s. The X-Factor, if you will, will be Matt McGloin, who is having a better season than any of the quarterbacks Iowa has faced this year.

Fun Facts:

  • In 2011, James Vandenberg threw 25 TDs on 404 attempts. In 195 attempts this year, he has just 2 touchdowns.
  • Iowa has won three of the last four against Penn State.
  • Penn State and Iowa’s leading rushers were both backup fullbacks with zero carries coming into spring practice.
  • Iowa has the 21st ranked scoring defense, allowing just 17.2 ppg, but just the 100th ranked scoring offense, with 22 ppg.
  • Penn State is 1-2 following their last three byes, including a 1 point loss to Iowa in 2008.
  • Penn State opened as a 1.5 point underdog in this year’s matchup.

 

For all of the latest on the Penn State Nittany Lions, follow VBR Lead Editor Tim Tolley on Twitter.

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  • Willie Green

    I could barely stay awake watching the Iowa/MSU game…
    It seemed like the whole game was being played in slow motion.
    I think that the NASCAR offense will leave the Hawkeyes in the dust.

    • http://twitter.com/TimTolleyFS Tim Tolley

      They play pretty solid defense but I agree. I think Penn State is better offensively than anyone they’ve played so far. Also, they had the benefit of playing MSU coming off of a bye.