Game Preview: Iowa
#17/#18 Iowa Hawkeyes: 3-1
Series Record: 11-11 (Iowa has won the last 2 meetings)
Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz (15th year overall, 12th in Iowa)
Players to Watch: QB Ricky Stanzi, DE Adrian Clayborn, WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, RB Adam Robinson, DT Mike Daniels
To say the Hawkeyes are a nightmare for the Nittany Lions would be an understatement. Iowa has beaten Penn State 6 out of the last 7 matchups, including Iowa’s 24-23 crushing victory in 2008 that spoiled the Lions perfect season and any hopes of a BCS National Championship. The Hawkeyes also dismantled the Nittany Lions in 2009 at Beaver Stadium, 21-10, ruining any chances for a Big Ten title.
Will the Lions be looking for revenge? Perhaps. But this time Penn State goes into Iowa City as the underdogs against an Iowa team with a No.1 ranked scoring defense in the Big Ten. Penn State’s offense has had its obvious struggles in the red zone so far this season, and if that hasn’t change, it will be a long day for the Nittany Lions against this terrorizing defense.
Iowa’s defense is noted for defensive end Adrian Clayborn, who Penn State fans remember as the big #94 chug-a-lugging down the field to return a blocked punt for a touchdown in Beaver Stadium last year. Clayborn came into 2010 as a top-ranked defensive lineman in the country, but he has yet to register a sack.
Instead, the Hawkeyes’ defensive line has been led by undersized defensive tackle Mike Daniels. Daniels has been a constant force this year, recording 3 sacks and contributing to the Hawkeyes stout run-defense that is allowing only 2.4 yards per carry.
Penn State’s secondary is coming off its best performance of the year against Temple. They currently allow only 159 passing yards a game. However, Iowa quarterback, Ricky Stanzi, has given the Nittany Lions trouble in the past. Stanzi’s favorite target is 6-foot-1 wide receiver Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, who has 270 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Perhaps, Iowa’s biggest offense weapon is running back Adam Robinson. Robinson came into 2010 with a stable of two other standout running backs, but due to injuries and personal issues, Robinson has emerged as Iowa’s workhorse back. He leads the Hawkeyes in scoring with six touchdowns and has rushed for 385 yards. Penn State’s defensive line and linebackers have to hope that out-of-conference running backs, like Alabama’s Trent Richardson and Temple’s Bernard Pierce, have prepared them well for the Big Ten play.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz has been a thorn in Joe Paterno’s side since he became Iowa’s head coach 12 years ago. Will the Hawkeyes from the Midwest be able to improve on Ferentz’s 7-2 record against the legend Joe Paterno? Or will the Nittany Lions play the role of the spoiler and upset Iowa in their own stadium?
Make your predictions!