Iowa has played in Happy Valley for a White Out game once before. The Hawkeyes won that contest, 21-10, using a blocked punt that Adrian Clayborn returned for a touchdown to help flip the outcome late on a soggy night.
Weather is expected to a factor once again, and maybe that bodes well for the Hawkeyes. The College GameDay crew made their picks this morning.
With the massive contest approaching at 6:30 p.m. CT tonight on CBS, let’s go behind enemy lines with Nittany Lions Wire editor Kevin McGuire to get his thoughts on Penn State so far and on this matchup tonight.
What's impressed you most so far
Question: What has impressed you most about Penn State so far this season?
The defense has lived up to the hype, and perhaps has surpassed where I thought it might be this season. It has only been three games but after losing some key players to the NFL, Penn State has not given up more than 15 points in each of its first three games. The defense came out and set the tone last week with five turnovers, three of which came in the first quarter against Illinois.
The Drew Allar effect
Question: How is Drew Allar looking thus far? What does he add that the Nittany Lions haven’t had in the past?
Drew Allar looks as confident and mature as you could expect out of a sophomore. While he has had a few passes miss the mark, especially last week, he has not made a bad decision that has come back to hurt him and the team.
He has gone his first three games without an interception thrown and last week showed he has what it takes to make some big plays when things aren’t looking great. Last week was his biggest defensive test early on so far, though, and it was on the road. I’m interested to see what he does against Iowa’s defense.
This game's implication for Penn State
Question: What does this game mean to Penn State in terms of the Big Ten title race?
All of the talk going into this season has focused on what Penn State does against Ohio State and Michigan, with the idea that splitting those two games could be enough to get Penn State into the Big Ten championship game (and perhaps gain a path to its first College Football Playoff).
And while that may be the case down the line, it only is a possibility if it avoids slipping up before then. So this game against Iowa, coming off a road test at Illinois, is incredibly important. If we’re already budgeting Penn State’s season with one loss in mind, and assuming that comes against the Buckeyes or Wolverines, then a loss at home to Iowa would be pretty catastrophic for the big picture in the end.
How does Penn State win?
Question: How does Penn State win this game?
Penn State can win this game in a couple of ways because I think they have more to offer on offense than Iowa will bring to the table. But the Nittany Lions have to be prepared for a grinding effort and show great patience like they did last week. If the defense creates opportunities similar to last week, Penn State has to capitalize on those chances more than last week.
Penn State got two field goals off the first two Illinois turnovers last week. Things got better later, but those were golden opportunities to blow the game wide open from the start. The offensive line will need a much stronger showing as well to allow Nick Singleton and Kaytron Allen a chance to do some damage on the ground.
How does Iowa win?
Question: How does Iowa win this game?
Iowa wins this game by slowing things down and keeping Penn State’s offense off the field. The new clock rules can come to Iowa’s advantage in an attempt to shorten the game as much as possible. Because I don’t believe Iowa’s offense has a ton of points in them against Penn State’s defense, Iowa can win a low-scoring game.
Bringing pressure on Drew Allar the way Illinois did last week is possible and key, but keeping that going for four quarters is essential. Illinois broke down as the game went on last week. I think Iowa can keep it going longer if Penn State can’t get any explosive plays in the passing game in its ongoing search for a receiver truly stepping up in a big moment.
Follow Josh on Twitter: @JoshOnREF
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