Penn State Football: Predictions for the game at Iowa

STATE COLLEGE, PA - SEPTEMBER 16: DaeSean Hamilton /

Will Penn State football walk away with its first road win and Big Ten win of the season Saturday night?

Penn State blew through its non-conference schedule with three convincing wins at home, including two shutouts. Up next is both the first road test and the first conference game of the season. The Nittany Lions travel to Iowa City to face a tricky Iowa squad that’s also undefeated.

Iowa City is always a tough place to play, particularly when the lights are on. Penn State has just one win in its last five trips there. Staying undefeated this week won’t be easy for James Franklin’s squad, but they Nittany Lions defiantly have the talent to get it done.

Despite scoring 141 points in three games, the Nittany Lions have really yet to put together a complete performance on offense. That’s a scary thought for opposing defenses. Franklin and company would love nothing more than to go into a hostile environment and put up big numbers from the start.

Will the Nittany Lions start the Big Ten season off with a big win? See what the VBR staff thinks Saturday’s game has in store.

Barry Leonard, Co-Site Expert

A primetime game at Kinnick Stadium is never easy for visiting teams. The Nittany Lions will look to quiet the crowd rather quickly by starting fast. Iowa is undefeated, but the Hawkeyes have been inconsistent and statistically sit in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten.

Quarterback Trace McSorley, who looked off during Week 3, was very impressive last week against Georgia State. If McSorley is back on track the offense will be very tough to defend. Tight end Mike Geiscki and a plethora of talented receivers give McSorley several dangerous targets to choose from.

If a dangerous passing game isn’t enough, the Nittany Lions have the top running back in the country in Saquon Barkley. The run game has had some trouble getting going so far this year, but Barkley has been a huge part of the passing game and still has five total touchdowns in three games.

The Nittany Lions put up 599 yards in last year’s meeting with the Hawkeyes and will look for a similar performance this year.

Iowa was held to just 234 total yards last year, and this year won’t be any easier. The Nittany Lions have been dominant on the defensive side of the ball. I don’t expect that to change this week. While I doubt there will be a shutout, it will a good overall showing by the entire Penn State team.

Penn State 35
Iowa 10

Collin Wieder, Co-Site Expert

Big Ten play begins with another 3-0 squad at Iowa Saturday night. The Nittany Lions are looking for a 4-0 start, but they’ll have to fight through their first real challenge in the Hawkeyes.

Iowa certainly isn’t Wisconsin or Ohio State, but they’re 3-0 and are by the far the best team Penn State will face to this point. Last season, the Nittany Lions rolled the Hawkeyes 41-14 during the long nine-game win streak. It’ll be hard to expect that same deficit this early in the season. After playing some cupcakes, the offense and defense will run into some resistance Saturday,

However, Heisman Trophy candidates Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley will create enough big plays to keep Iowa off pace. There’s just too many weapons for the Hawkeyes to keep up with. Along with a swarming, team-oriented Penn State defense, the Nittany Lions will take home a 20-plus point win.

Penn State 34

Iowa 14

Marty Leap, Contributor

Saturday night will be the first real test of the season for the Nittany Lions as they head to what should be a rocking Kinnick Stadium for their Big Ten opener against the 3-0 Iowa Hawkeyes.

Luckily for the Nittany Lions, the Hawkeyes are a bit banged up entering this game. Star running back Akrum Wadley exited last week’s game early and it is not known how healthy he will be on Saturday night. Additionally, his backup, James Butler, as well as the Hawkeyes’ starting left tackle are both out on Saturday night.

Iowa’s secondary is one that was shredded in week two by Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park to the tune of 347 yards. Look for Trace McSorley and the Nittany Lions receivers to have a big game on Saturday night. Furthermore, Saquon Barkley and the rushing attack should get a big boost from a returning Bendan Mahon on the offensive line.

Last season the Nittany Lions dominated Iowa 41-14. A big reason for this is that Penn State was a much more athletic and faster team. While I do not expect it to be a blowout again this year, the Nittany Lions still have far too much speed and athleticism for the Hawkeyes to handle. This game will be a dogfight into the fourth quarter, but in the end the Nittany Lions start conference play with a win.

Penn State 35
Iowa 21

Joe Ciminera, Contributor

Winning a football game in the Big Ten conference is extremely difficult. Let alone winning a Big Ten conference game at night, on the road, in Iowa City against a very talented 3-0 Hawkeye team.

Thankfully for Penn State fans, beating the Nittany Lions  may be the most challenging obstacle in the entire Big Ten this year.

An explosive offense and a sturdy defense has led Penn State to a 3-0 start. Iowa will provide a great challenge. Their quarterback Nate Stanley will be out to prove that he’s the real deal and the Hawkeye faithful with create a deafening cacophony.

This will be a matchup that really lets Penn State know where they stand. And I think we’ll see that the Nittany Lions stand with the giants of college football.

Penn State 31
Iowa 17

Corey Hunter, Contributor 

Penn State opens Big Ten play as they travel to Iowa City to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes.

The raucous, night time atmosphere of Kinnick Stadium should serve as a litmus test for the national title hopes of this year’s Nittany Lion squad. Penn State enters the contest having won the last three times these teams have met.

Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is second nationally in all-purpose yards per game with 218.3 while Iowa’s first-year starting quarterback Nate Stanley leads the Big Ten with 10 touchdown passes. Both teams play their style of offense very well!

The Nittany Lions have the ability to stretch the field not only with their wide receivers, but also with tight end Mike Gesicki and running back Saquon Barkley.  Iowa can score but are more methodical. Pace and pressure on the opponent are the key here and Iowa doesn’t have enough to pull off the home upset.

Look for Barkley to eclipse 100-yards rushing in this one while Trace McSorley throws for 250-yards and 3 scores. Penn State scores 30-plus points for the 11th consecutive game.

Penn State – 31
Iowa – 17

Shane Lunnen, Contributor

Penn State hits the road for the first time this season as they take on Iowa. It will also be their first real test in this young season.

A big key for Iowa will be the health of star running back Akrum Wadley. He’s expected to play after injuring his ankle last week, but how much will the injury hurt him will be the question. Last season when these two teams met, Wadley was the only Hawkeye that was effective against the Lions. They’ll need him to be near 100 percent Saturday night to have any chance of pulling the upset.

The other question is how much can the Hawkeye defense slow down the Lions’ high powered offense. Iowa tends to be successful when they can force teams to play their slow, plodding form of football. That is not Penn State. We should expect the Hawkeyes to key on Saquon Barkley with their top linebacker Josey Jewell. However as we have seen time and time again, as teams focus too much on Barkley, they will get burned because Trace McSorley has a slew of offensive weapons at his disposal.

Playing the Hawkeyes will always scare me. Call it some form of football PTSD.

I witnessed in-person as a student the overtime loss in 2002 and the most miserable game ever in 2004, the 6-4 loss. I was heartbroken along with the entire Nittany Nation in 2008 as Iowa snuffed our national title hopes.  The cold and wet experience of 2009 with Iowa topping us again did nothing to curb my frustration with the Hawkeyes.

Next: Penn State at Iowa Preview

The last time the Hawkeyes beat the Lions was 2010. Since then, Penn State has won three-in-a-row and the last two have been blowouts. These are not Paterno coached teams. I expect the Hawkeyes to keep it close in the first half but in the second half, Penn State’s speed and athleticism will take over and they will pull away.

Penn State 35
Iowa 21