Penn St.-Iowa Preview

Iowa bounced back from a painful non-conference loss with an

easy victory last week, while Penn State had its hands full for

four quarters against an opponent it has traditionally

dominated.

When it comes to facing the Hawkeyes, the Nittany Lions know all

too well what it’s like to consistently feel inferior.

Seventeenth-ranked Iowa’s seven wins in eight games against No.

22 Penn State include major upsets the past two seasons, but Kirk

Ferentz’s team will be a substantial favorite heading into Saturday

night’s Big Ten opener at Kinnick Stadium.

The Nittany Lions (3-1) were a top 5 team in each of their last

two meetings with the Hawkeyes (3-1), but left with their first

loss both times.

Iowa kicked a 31-yard field goal with one second left to knock

off Joe Paterno’s then-third-ranked team 24-23 on Nov. 8, 2008, in

Iowa City. The Hawkeyes also bounced back from an early 10-point

deficit to top the then-No. 5 Nittany Lions 21-10 last Sept. 26 in

Happy Valley.

Often in an underdog role, Ferentz’s teams are 7-1 against

Paterno’s since the start of the 2000 season. Iowa is favored to

knock off the Nittany Lions this time, though its coach isn’t

certain that should be the case.

“I’m not sure why they’d be considered the underdog,” Ferentz

said. “I’m looking at a team that’s won 51 games over five years,

one that doesn’t give up points.”

Each team begins conference play with a loss after entering last

season’s meeting 3-0. While Penn State’s 24-3 defeat at national

champion Alabama on Sept. 11 wasn’t hard to see coming, Iowa’s

34-27 loss at then-No. 24 Arizona on Sept. 18 was a bit

surprising.

The Hawkeyes didn’t let it linger last Saturday. Ricky Stanzi

threw three touchdown passes in the second and third quarters as

Iowa rebounded from a sloppy first quarter to throttle Ball State

45-0.

“We knew last week we had a bump in the road, but we didn’t want

to let Arizona beat us twice,” tailback Adam Robinson said after

his third 100-yard game of the season. “We didn’t want to dwell on

the loss. We wanted to move on and respond.”

Penn State didn’t have much trouble in a 24-0 win over Kent

State on Sept. 18, but had to work harder to lock up its 28th

consecutive victory over Temple on Saturday. The Nittany Lions

trailed 13-9 at halftime against the visiting Owls before

dominating defensively in the second half en route to a 22-13

win.

“When we play in the Big Ten, every game is going to be like

this,” receiver Brett Brackett said. “It was really something we

can learn from that we can hang in those situations, and it’s

something that we can improve upon.”

Bolden’s inexperience and a stalled running game slowed Penn

State’s offense in the early going, but Evan Royster may have

sparked a turnaround Saturday. After totaling 110 yards on 31

carries in the first three games, Royster had 187 yards against

Temple.

“Joe said I needed to get those extra yards,” Royster said

after becoming just the fifth Nittany Lions back to rush for 3,000

yards. “I came into the game thinking, ‘You know, he’s right. I

should be getting those extra yards.’ That’s what I’m here

for.”

Royster has been held to 3.7 yards per carry the last two

seasons against Iowa.

Finding holes could be even more difficult Saturday against a

Hawkeyes defense that’s third in the nation against the run at 65.5

yards per game and first overall at 227.5. Iowa has done it the

past few weeks without coordinator Norm Parker, who has been

hospitalized because of complications with diabetes.

“We’re not perfect. Going back to the Arizona game, there’s

plays there that got us beat,” safety Tyler Sash said. “Stats

really don’t mean anything if you don’t get the win.”

Perhaps no Iowa defender is more feared than senior end Adrian

Clayborn, who Penn State knows all too well. The Lombardi Award

candidate blocked and returned a punt for a touchdown in last

season’s win, and could be even more disruptive against an

offensive line that lost right tackle Lou Eliades last week to a

season-ending knee injury.

“He’s about as good as anyone there is,” Paterno said of

Clayborn.

The Hawkeyes have forced 14 turnovers in the series’ last four

games.