This post is indeed about the October 2 football game pitting Penn State against the University of Iowa. After re-reading it, I decided to clarify that early before I start on my characteristic tangential flights of fancy. Between the cryptic, statistically oriented headline and the aforementioned digressions, you might have thought that this was an article about how to successfully pick your nose or something. Don’t worry, though. We’ll get there eventually.
I’m not going to use that French d-phrase that means a feeling of having been somewhere before because it’s been popping up all over the blogosphere and the legitimate media. The advantage of being last man in is that I can avoid the hackneyed pitfalls of all the others who have been there before me. Of course, the disadvantage of being sloppy last is that by the time my game comments are published everybody is already sick and tired of reading about the mess of a game they watched the prior Saturday.
As procrastinatorial as I might tend to be, however, the veritable champion of delayed coverage is Phil Grosz, who publishes one of the more respected independent Nittany Lions sports publications, Blue White Illustrated (BWI). Phil’s spiel is delayed a week, so while some parts of the current BWI address the Iowa game, his feature column still speaks of the Temple game. Almost makes a guy not want to read about it, but I find humor in the situation and in knowing that Phil will inevitably find comparisons to the 1982 team, which he has been doing for time immemorial. Here’s a guy whose career is built on his intimate knowledge of the 1982 team. Just kidding. But I don’t think an old guy with white hair should be sporting a Beatle haircut, either, unless he’s Moe of the Three Stooges. Alas, I digress.
Do you see where procrastination leads? Can you tell that I’m blocking? Oy vey, am I ever blocking. I really don’t want to write about that crappy game on Saturday. But duty calls and I will heed. Here goes.
As expected, the Penn State Nittany Lions (3-2, 0-1 Big Ten) lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) in Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night before a sellout crowd and a national TV audience on ESPN. The score was 24-3, but it wasn’t that close. For their non performance this week, the Lions were dropped from the polls’ Top 25, while the Hawkeyes moved up to #15 in both polls. Penn State did not cover the spread, but I should have told you to take the “under”. The over/under was 40. My prediction of 27-13 in Iowa’s favor sadly gave too much credit to the Nittany Lions for a nonexistent red zone offense.
It was homecoming weekend in Iowa City. The good alumni of the University of Iowa got one helluva homecoming show at the behest of our hapless Nittany Lions.
Iowa went into the game with the #1 defense in the FBS division and it showed. My pre-game comments suggested that both teams would have to earn their points through the air, as both rushing defenses were tough. One proved to be a pretender, and you know which one that was. Iowa rushed for a respectable 122 yards, while Penn State sputtered to a lowly 54 yards on 23 attempts for an average of 2.3 measly yards per carry. The first quarter, in which the Lions had a net one yard rushing, was absolutely a parody of a running game, with all due credit to Iowa’s front seven. Yes, readers, Iowa is the legitimate defense and Penn State is the pretender. The only reason that Iowa sank to #2 in total defense after this past weekend is that the Crimson Tide slid past them. Still a pretty respectable place to be. They moved up from #3 rushing defense to #2. Against that tough defense, Evan Royster had 56 yards; the rest of the backfield netted out to -2 yards. I think you can say that the offensive line was beaten up pretty well.
Penn State actually gained more passing yards than Iowa (247 to 227) on 22 completions of 42 throws. However, despite one 49-yard play to Brett Brackett, the average per pass worked out to only 5.9 yards. Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi proved to be the more accurate passer and his receivers the more sure-handed, as he completed 16 out of 22. Both quarterbacks had one interception and Stanzi had one touchdown pass, which was a ridiculous completion to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos standing all alone in the end zone. Any thoughts that the Penn State secondary had potential for greatness should have been quashed right then and there.