Upset-Minded Iowa Has History Of Knocking Off Ranked Opponents In Kinnick Stadium
So far this season the Nittany Lions have enjoyed playing in hospitable Beaver Stadium. Backed by their loyal army of more than 100,000 raucous blue and white supporters, Penn State has won its first three games in convincing fashion.
On Saturday, however, these Nittany Lions will be entering an entire new atmosphere. Instead of playing in front of their own fans, the Lions will walk into a sea of over 70,000 black and yellow Hawkeye fans hoping to witness an upset.
Kinnick Stadium has never been an easy place to play for any opponent, but it’s been even more inhospitable to teams ranked in the top 25. Just last season the Hawkeyes beat two teams ranked inside the top 25, then No 17 Nebraska and then No. 2 Michigan.
Michigan came into its game against Iowa last season flying high. Undefeated and coming off of a 59-3 capitulation of Maryland the week before, it was expected that the Hawkeyes would be just another bump in the road along the way to a Big Ten championship game appearance. As we all know now that is far from what happened.
Iowa’s defense, aided by the noise generated from their screaming supporters, frustrated and confused the Wolverines’ star quarterback Wilton Speight the entire night. The redshirt junior managed to complete just 11 of his 26 pass attempts for only 103 yards, throwing zero touchdowns and an interception. The Hawkeye defense also stymied the Wolverine run game holding them to only 2.8 yards per carry on the night.
Iowa’s defense was able to keep the game close the entire night eventually paving the way for freshman kicker Keith Duncan to play the role of hero. Duncan nailed his 33-yard kick right through the uprights and straight into the hearts of the entire Michigan sideline.
Back in 2008, an eerily similar game took place in Kinnick Stadium as well. No. 3 Penn State rolled into Iowa City following a huge win against Ohio State, and just like Michigan it was frustrated all night as the pesky Hawkeyes hung around.
Penn State quarterback Daryll Clark was ineffective, completing only 9 of his 23 passes for a mere 86 yards. Running back Evan Royster was also held in check only rushing for 90 yards on 26 carries.
That game ended the same way the Michigan game did. With a last second field goal costing Penn State its shot at a national title.
Kirk Ferentz’s game plan will almost definitely be the same as it was those two nights: Control the ball, play stout defense, and keep the game within arms reach, so sophomore quarterback Nathan Stanley and the offense can make a play or two to change the game. The longer Iowa can keep the game close the more dangerous they will become.
Franklin’s offense must be up to the task of dealing with the noise generated by the Hawkeye faithful. If McSorley, Barkley, and the Nittany Lions are unable to consistently move the ball and put points on the board, they will be falling right into the Hawkeyes’ trap and might just be the latest top 5 team to fall in Kinnick Stadium.