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No. 10 Penn State Football Outlasts No. 17 Iowa 17-12, Becomes Bowl Eligible

No. 10 Penn State football (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten) escaped No. 17 Iowa (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten) 17-12 at Kinnick Stadium Saturday night.

Penn State’s offense hardly had a dominant performance, but timely scores and a big time defensive effort combined to give the Nittany Lions their sixth win of the season. Noah Cain led the offense with 102 rushing yards and a touchdown, while Robert Windsor was a constant factor for Brent Pry’s defense.

How It Happened

Iowa received the opening kickoff and went three-and-out on its first possession. The Hawkeyes muffed their punt and Penn State got the ball on Iowa’s own 41-yard line, but the Nittany Lions failed to pick up a first down as well.

Nate Stanley and the rest of Iowa’s offense followed up another Penn State three-and-out with a solid 38-yard drive that got them all the way down to Penn State’s own 30-yard line. Keith Duncan nailed the 47-yard field goal and gave the Hawkeyes a 3-0 lead with 2:12 remaining in the first quarter.

Sean Clifford and Co. finally got some momentum going in the second quarter. The Nittany Lions went on a 15-play, 85-yard drive that was capped off by an acrobatic KJ Hamler touchdown. The wide receiver took a 22-yard reception to the house in which he leapt over several Iowa defenders on his way to the end zone. Penn State took a 7-3 lead with 8:36 remaining in the first half.

Penn State’s defense bent but didn’t break just before halftime. Stanley led Iowa down to the Nittany Lions’ own seven-yard line, but couldn’t punch it in for a score. Duncan nailed the 24-yard field goal and Penn State took a 7-6 lead into the locker room.

Neither offense could get much of anything going in the third quarter. After about ten minutes of a field-position battle, PJ Mustipher forced a fumble that was recovered by Jan Johnson. The Nittany Lions took over inside Iowa’s own 20-yard line and capitalized with big-time receptions from Hamler and Pat Freiermuth.

Freiermuth had a 16-yard reception that was originally called a touchdown on the field, but he was questionably called down at the one-yard line after a review.

Several penalties and miscues knocked the Nittany Lions all the way back to the 21-yard line and they were forced to settle for a field goal. Jake Pinegar hit his 33-yard attempt to give Penn State a 10-6 lead with 2:08 remaining in the third quarter.

Penn State’s Wild Dogs stuffed Iowa’s run game on its first possession of the fourth quarter and gave the ball back to the offense. Despite a solid drive in which Noah Cain had several productive carries, Penn State was forced to punt and Blake Gillikin pinned Iowa on its own four-yard line.

The Nittany Lions got the ball back in Iowa territory when Stanley airmailed a pass directly into the hands of Jaquan Brisker. Clifford and Cain combined for several huge carries, and the running back capped off the drive with a five-yard touchdown rush. Penn State took a 17-6 lead with 5:17 left in the game.

Nate Stanley orchestrated a solid drive for the Hawkeyes, including a 4th and five conversion, which was capped off by an unbelievable 33-yard touchdown reception from Brandon Smith. A failed two point conversion left Iowa trailing 17-12 with 2:46 remaining in the game.

The Nittany Lions got the ball back and proceeded to feed Cain on the ground. The freshman picked up several clutch first downs as the clock ran out, and Penn State escaped Kinnick Stadium with a 17-12 win.


  • Noah Cain is a beast. The freshman carried Penn State down the field on several of its final drives, as he finished with 102 yards on the ground on 22 carries.
  • Robert Windsor and PJ Mustipher stood out for the Wild Dogs all night. Windsor had 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss, while Mustipher had six total tackles of his own. The pair were constantly disrupting Iowa’s run-game, hurrying Nate Stanley, and stuffing the Hawkeyes at the line of scrimmage.
  • While he didn’t have a great day through the air, Sean Clifford’s gritty rushing ability was key for Penn State tonight. The redshirt sophomore finished second on the team with 52 yards on the ground, including several clutch first downs using his feet.

What’s Next?

Penn State will host No. 16 Michigan at Beaver Stadium under White Out conditions Saturday night. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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