Hostile Rivalry Between Penn State & Iowa Returns To Beaver Stadium
Down-to-the-wire defensive battles are what come to mind when thinking about Penn State and Iowa.
These teams will face off for the 32nd time in series history when the Hawkeyes travel to Happy Valley for a White Out showdown on Saturday, September 23. Of the 31 matchups between these teams, 14 have been decided by one possession, including the last time these teams faced off in 2021.
In that 2021 matchup in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes and Nittany Lions came into the game ranked No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. The first half was dominated by the Nittany Lions on both sides of the ball, and they led 17-10 at the half.
However, a second-quarter injury to Sean Clifford completely changed the trajectory of the game. Backup quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson gained just 50 yards on his total 46 plays and was held inside Penn State territory for almost the entire second half. Iowa outscored Penn State 13-3 in the second half en route to a 23-20 victory for the Hawkeyes.
After multiple other Nittany Lions were injured, the Hawkeyes fanbase began booing and yelling that Penn State was faking its injuries. The game ended nastily and threw fuel back into the rivalry that was so prominent over the past two decades.
Overall, Penn State has a record of 17-14 against Iowa, though the Hawkeyes lead the series in Beaver Stadium with a record of 8-7. This will be Iowa’s second time playing in the White Out — the first time came in 2009 when the Hawkeyes beat the Nittany Lions by a score of 21-10.
The series dates all the way back to 1930 when Iowa found itself victorious 19-0. The teams waited 41 years until they saw each other again, and the Nittany Lions took care of business 44-14 in 1971. Through 1976, Iowa went 1-5, and Penn State consistently dominated the Hawkeyes until the year 2000.
From 1930 to 1999, Penn State won 10 of the 14 matchups. The Nittany Lions met their match in the early 2000s when Iowa hired head football coach Kirk Ferentz. Penn State dropped five straight games in five years, Iowa’s longest win streak in the series.
This streak included a notable double-overtime Beaver Stadium battle that resulted in a 26-23 loss for the Nittany Lions and a strange 6-4 defensive dogfight. Neither team could muster any offensive momentum, and the Hawkeyes outscored the two Penn State safeties with two field goals of their own.
Ferentz seemed to have the Nittany Lions number. After losing his first matchup against Penn State, Ferentz’s Hawkeyes won seven of his first nine challenges with former head coach Joe Paterno. This all changed in 2011 when Penn State began its largest win streak of the series. From 2011 to 2019, the Nittany Lions won six straight games.
The most notable battle in that timeframe came in the 2017 matchup, what’s become commonly known as “the Saquon Game.” Saquon Barkley finished the game with a school-record 358 all-purpose yards. He rushed for 211 yards and a touchdown while catching 12 balls for 94 yards and returning three kickoffs for 53 yards.
Quarterback Trace McSorley was held without a passing touchdown until the final play of the game. With only four seconds remaining, McSorley flung a fourth-and-goal pass across the middle to wide receiver Juwan Johnson for a seven-yard touchdown and a 21-19 victory.
Now, Iowa has started another win streak of its own and came out victorious in two straight contests. Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have gotten a taste of the White Out environment before, but his team was completely different that time around. For the second straight matchup, both teams come into the game undefeated.
Iowa’s quarterback Cade McNamara is no stranger to Penn State, and he posted a 1-1 record against the Nittany Lions while playing for Michigan. However, McNamara has never played in a White Out environment. The same goes for Penn State’s quarterback Drew Allar.
The storied history will write its next chapter at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 23, in Beaver Stadium. Folks can tune in to the broadcast on CBS.
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About the Author
Inspired by a truly awful cut three years ago, Shaun Flaherty started cutting hair to fix some questionable cuts from the barbers in upstate New York.
“I couldn’t really think of any other place to do it because everyone is the happiest there.”
Penn State fell to under .500 for the first time this season.