Iowa kicks off their Big Ten play on Saturday against Penn State in Happy Valley. The game will begin at 2:30 p.m.
The Hawkeyes (3-1) were idle last week and Penn State (4-1) beat Indiana 16-10.
Let’s take a look at this week’s game.
A work in progress, Iowa’s young and sparse defense continues to improve. At times they’ve been painful to watch. They have allowed 23.8 points per game and 385.8 yards of total offense. The defense plays well against the run, allowing 132.5 yards per game with only 3.2 yards per carry.
Against ULM, Iowa shut down their rushing attack, only allowing 59 yards and only one long run of six yards or more. Nationally, Iowa is ranked 15th in red zone defense, (.710) and tied at No. 16 for turnover margins. Defensive stars include linebacker James Morris (10 tackles per game), defensive back Micah Hyde (two interceptions) and sleeper defensive tackle Tom Nardo.
Penn State’s defense is strong, ranking highly nationally in total defense (allowing just 250.4 yards per game), No. 6 in pass defense (155.4 yards per game) and and No. 7 for giving up points per game (12) . They’ve also been successful in creating turnovers with 11 to date.
Advantage: Penn State
Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg has successfully taken over the reins and has been an integral part of the team’s 3-1 record. He’s completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 1,095 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception. Vandenberg has two strong receiver weapons with Marvin McNutt Jr. (averaging 103.2 yards per game, four touchdown catches) and Keenan Davis (19 receptions for 286 yards, three touchdowns).
Running back Marcus Coker is still Iowa’s running game, averaging 95 yards rushing per game or 4.4 yards per carry with four touchdowns.
Penn State continues to use two quarterbacks: Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden. Last week, McGloin was 10-of-22 passes for 204 yards, one touchdown while Bolden was 6-of-14 passes for 67 yards. The two are very different in style with McGloin seeing a greater number of completions (57.9 percent ) and four touchdowns, while Bolden comes in at a 45.9 percent (39-of-85) completion rate with four interceptions and one touchdown.
The team has Derek Moye as their top receiver with 443 yards and three touchdowns and Silas Redd at running back, averaging 86.4 yards per game or 4.7 yards per carry.
Penn State has 10 turnovers in their first five games, three came against Indiana.
Iowa has Eric Guthrie as the punter and Mike Meyer as kicker. Guthrie is coming along nicely and is averaging 44.9 yards/punt. Meyer had a few missed kicks but is 8 for 10 (a long of 50 yards) and he’s hit his extra points.
Penn State has Alex Butterworth as their punter with an average of 38.7 yards/punt. Anthony Fera is the kicker who is also 8 for 10.
Iowa is Penn State’s nemesis as the Hawkeyes have won eight of their last nine meetings. There has been some close games (see 2008) and in last year’s meeting at Kinnick, Iowa dominated 24-3.
I see a close running game on Saturday with a Penn State win. The difference? Penn State’s defense.
About the Author
Written by Debbie Baratz