Surging PSU (4-2; 2-0) travels to Iowa City for a night game at Kinnick stadium against Big Ten nemesis Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2; 2-0). How will the PSU – Iowa rivalry turnout?
Notes for Saturday’s game:
History favors Iowa — Anyone who has followed PSU over the last few years know that Iowa has been dominating the series, in fact, PSU has not won at Iowa since 1999. Iowa coach Krik Ferentz is 8-3 in his career against PSU. One of the most memorable games though was the 2008 Iowa victory at Kinnick Stadium that ruined PSU’s chances of playing for the national title. Things have changed considerably in the past year. A new PSU team under new leadership brings a potent offensive to Iowa, a team coming off a big overtime victory against Michigan State.
Night game – this will be the first night game of the year for the Nittany Lions and Kinnick stadium will not disappoint. Expect an electric environment. Iowa has confidence building after their OT victory in East Lansing. These fans will be out in full force. PSU will need to maintain composure and adjust to the loud crowd noise.
Healthy PSU – the bye week helped, but it looks like the roster is healthy. No notable injuries. This is big considering the limited depth. Even better, RB coach Charles London said Belton’s ankle injury is fully recovered. Zwinak’s downhill, physical running can now be complimented with the quick, receiving style of Belton. Iowa’s defense will be prepared for Zwinak, but I expect Belton to catch them off guard and have a big game.
Iowa running game – Top Hawkeye RB for Iowa, Mark Weisman, is questionable for Saturday’s game. The former walk-on fullback was injured in the Michigan State game. Normally, such an injury wouldn’t have a significant impact on the game, but Weisman is a central piece of the Iowa offense. In addition, the RB position has been a huge issue for the Hawkeyes. If Weisman can’t play, Iowa will have to rely on an inexperienced player to fill the role. Despite having a veteran QB in Vandenberg, don’t expect the Iowa offense to score many points (ranked 100th in the country in points scored).
Scoring Defense – PSU is second in the Big Ten; Iowa is third. It will be the best defense McGloin has seen so far this year. Then again, PSU will bring a potent passing attack that will have Iowa on their heels. With Iowa’s offense questionable, their defense will have to slow down PSU and keep this a low scoring game in order to win. Also worth noting, Iowa and PSU are tied for 1st in the Big Ten in turnover margin. So expect some exciting defensive play this Saturday….
Battle of the big boys – a key to success will be establishing dominance on the line, controlling the trenches. PSU will have their work cut out for them on both ends of the field. Iowa’s offensive line can definitely move people around. They’ll be facing PSU’s stellar front 7 in what could be a classic Big Ten style match-up.
Prediction: I expect PSU to come in with a chip on their shoulder. They know Iowa has beaten them up over the years. Now it’s their turn. This is a much different PSU team under a new regime. Iowa’s defense will be big a test for PSU, but I expect O’Brien to expose the gaps and find the holes to put points on the board. PSU’s solid front 7 on defense will keep Iowa’s running style offense out of the red zone. Iowa may be a 3 point favorite, but I see PSU winning by 14 points.