Penn State’s defense is well built to stop Iowa’s run first (and second, and probably third) offense, and the Lions’ offense is the best Iowa has seen all season. I think Matt McGloin has a big game, and the tight ends to step up as Iowa focuses on Allen Robinson. State’s success passing early and physical offensive line wears down the Iowa front 7, and Zach Zwinak takes advantage late. The scoreboard will show a 14 point difference, but I don’t think it will feel that close.
A night game at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium is tough for any team, let alone a Penn State team that has not won in that environment since 1999. Iowa has been a team that has caused much anguish and heartbreak for Nittany Lion fans. The 24-23 Iowa victory in 2008 ruined a chance to play for the national title while the 6-4 loss in 2004 may have been one of the most pathetic I have ever witnessed.
This year’s Nittany Lion’s squad is different. They possess an accurate quarterback – yes I said accurate, dynamic play-calling that involves the tight end, an offensive line that seems to want to block not only for the run game, but also for quarterback Matt McGloin, and defense that has been improving each week.
While many around Nittany Nation think this is a slam dunk for Penn State, I am taking the more conservative approach. Iowa is coming off a gutty win in East Lansing and Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz seems to have Penn State’s number. Perhaps the coaching change at Penn State is just the tonic the Lions need to get the victory.
The team that can run the ball better in this game will win the game, and I think Penn State will have a slight advantage in that category. Recall last year, when Silas Redd used this game as his coming out party for the rest of the year as he ran for 142 yards. Look for the Lions to attack the line of scrimmage again this year to wear down the Hawkeyes defensive front.
My bold prediction: Penn State will kick not one, but two field goals in this game!
But times have changed.
Penn State will arrive in Iowa City this weekend with a new staff and a new confidence. Gone are the days of Iowa out-coaching more-talented Penn State teams. The Nittany Lions are the best offensive team that Iowa has seen this year and Iowa’ pro-style, one dimensional offense should feed right into the teeth of the PSU defense. Despite my fears, Penn State beats Iowa, for the 2nd year in a row.
As my article, Revisiting the Iowa Rivalry pointed out, Penn State hasn’t had the best luck versus Iowa, especially in Kinnick. Coming off a bye hasn’t helped their cause either, going 0-3 in 2003, 2004 and 2008. However, while I believe the atmosphere will cause PSU a few problem, I believe they have the better offense and defense by a considerable margin. Vanderberg has showed little progress as a passer and they are on their 100th RB in 4 years. There is no threat of a mobile QB, so I believe PSU should be able to blitz and create havoc in the backfield. If PSU can hold onto the ball, have a few 10, 12, 14 play drives and put the ball in the end zone, this one could be a double-digit win for PSU.