PENN STATE AT IOWA
WEEK 6: 6:30 P.M., KINNICK STADIUM
RADIO: WOC 1420 AM
LINE: Penn State by 3.5
SERIES: Penn State 16-12
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH
Sean Clifford’s arm
Penn State brings the Big Ten’s top passing attack to Kinnick Stadium, riding the strength and 66.7-percent completion percentage of its sophomore quarterback. The Cincinnati native throws for an average of 288.6 yards per game, collecting 1,443 yards while throwing 12 touchdown passes and being intercepted twice through 135 attempts this season.
Nate Stanley’s protection
Sacked eight times a week ago at Michigan, the Iowa quarterback is preparing to face a Penn State defense which leads the country with 25 sacks and 52 tackles for a loss through five games. Improved cohesion up front, more consistent blocking from the skill positions and quicker decision-making and releases by Iowa’s senior QB are priorities this week.
Penn State’s end game
Juniors Yeter Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney anchor a disruptive Nittany Lions defense from their spots at defensive end. Gross-Matos with 5.5 and Toney with five rank third and fourth in the Big Ten in sacks. They join linebacker Micah Parsons in leading Penn State in tackles for a loss, combining for 19 so far this season.
Tyler Goodson’s snaps
Like Penn State which has four backs averaging around 40 rushing yards per game, expect Iowa to continue to utilize a rotation at running back. Juniors Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young will be join true freshman Tyler Goodson in the mix. Goodson has averaged 5.4 yards per carry, second among Iowa’s backs to the 7.1 yards Young averages.
The final snap has determined the last two Iowa-Penn State games, both won by the Nittany Lions. If this game comes down to a field goal, both teams have been consistent. Iowa junior Keith Duncan has hit 11 of his 12 chances this season while Penn State’s Jake Pinegar, an Ankeny, Iowa, native, is 4-of-5 from under 40 yards and Jordan Stout is 2-of-3 from beyond 50.
— Steve Batterson
Iowa (4-1, 1-1)
INTERCEPTIONS: Michael Ojemudia 2, Djimon Colbert 1, Geno Stone 1
SACKS: A.J. Epenesa 2, Amani Jones 1, Chauncey Golston 1, Cedrick Lattimore 1, Daviyon Nixon 1, Kristian Welch 1
TACKLES: Kristian Welch 39, Djimon Colbert 27, Jack Koerner 20, Geno Stone 20, Chauncey Golston 18, Michael Ojemudia 18
PUNT RETURNS: Nico Ragaini 9-96-10.7
KICKOFF RETURNS: Ihmir Smith-Marsette 5-111-22.2
Penn State (5-0, 2-0)
INTERCEPTIONS: John Reid 2, Tariq Castro-Fields 1, Jan Johnson 1
SACKS: Yetur Gross-Matos 5.5, Ellis Brooks 2.5, Jayson Oweh 2
TACKLES: Micah Parsons 27, Cam Brown 24, Jan Johnson 23, Lamont Wade 22, Garrett Taylor 21
PUNT RETURNS: KJ Hamler 15-92-6.1, Mac Hippenhammer 2-13-6.5
KICKOFF RETURNS: KJ Hamler 3-57-19.0, Journey Brown 2-19-9.5
IOWA OT ALARIC JACKSON VS. PENN STATE DE YETER GROSS-MATOS: After getting a chance to get some of the rust off of his game while playing for the first time since the season opener a week ago at Michigan, the Hawkeye junior offensive tackle faces a major challenge in the Nittany Lions’ defensive end. Gross-Matos leads an aggressive defense, ranking third in the Big Ten with 5.5 sacks on the season and leads Penn State with 7.5 tackles for a loss.
BY THE NUMBERS
11: Consecutive wins by Penn State against teams from the Big Ten West
7.4: Points per game allowed by the Nittany Lions defense, ranking second in the nation and one spot in front of the 8.8 allowed by the Hawkeyes.
"Both games I have played against Penn State have been a dogfight and this will probably be a tough game again. We’ve got to be ready for that." – Iowa safety Geno Stone