Penn State 30, Iowa 24
The sun didn’t shine much on St. Joe Memorial-Penndot/Altoona Federal Stadium at Beaver Field on Saturday, but when it finally did, it was in the form of a game saving interception by Nick Scott with 3:18 left. #17 Penn State (6-2, 3-2) hung on to defeat the #18 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2, 3-2), 30-24 on a rainy, cold day at the Big Beave.
Once again, Trace McSorley produced a significant share of the offense, even after he had been hurt. He wound up 11-25 passing for 167 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. He added 12 carries for 63 yards, including a touchdown while hobbling on a 51-yard post-injury scamper, enabled by a mighty fine block by DeAndre Thompkins.
It Ain’t Over til It’s Over
Scott’s interception didn’t put the game away, because the Penn State offense was unable to move the ball from their own 9 yard-line, where Scott had tripped up. A decent punt by Blake Gillikin gave Iowa the ball at their own 23 with 1:11 left. However, Nate Stanley could not complete the deal for the Hawkeyes. On the comical last play, Shareef Miller had finally penetrated and dropped Stanley, who lateraled to a behemoth lineman, Tristan Wirfs. King Kong managed to amble for 15 yards to the PSU 29 before being felled as the clock ran out.
McSorley, McSorley, McSorley
Trace McSorley showed immense courage coming back to play the second half in pain. He begged James Franklin to let him play. Franklin told him he didn’t want a pro-style, pocket passer quarterback — he wanted the full package a healthy McSorley offered. After an emotional bonding with his dad, a hobbled McSorley came back in and did what was needed to win the game, the picture of courage, strength, and leadership. It is a shame that two home losses to tOSU and Moo U. will essentially eliminate him from Heisman consideration.
The game was played under harsh conditions, but these guys looked like the Keystone Cops out there in the first half, which wound up tied 17-17. First, a blocked Gillikin punt resulting in a safety followed by a Hawkeye field goal put Iowa in the lead 5-0. Then Gillikin gave Iowa a short field with a crappy, 32-yard punt. The Hawkeyes capitalized with a touchdown. They had obviously been watching videos of Penn State’s special teams defense, because the scoring play was a fake field goal from the 10 yard-line that caught the bemused PSU defense with its pants down.
To their credit, PSU answered with an 85-yard touchdown drive to make it 12-7. Then, I guess they wanted to make the score look “normal” because on the next series, a three-and-out, they screwed up the snap to Gillikin, sailing it into and out of the end zone. 14-7. There were hijinx throughout the game, in the unfavorable weather circumstance. It suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked.
In Conclusion, Let Us Pray…
You can write off only so much to the weather. We can conclude that Iowa’s usually serviceable defense was not sufficient to overcome its dysfunctional offense. If it weren’t for two interceptions of Nate Stanley, the outcome might have been flipped, because otherwise, Iowa played its possession game.
Going into the Michigan game, we have lots to fix in a short time, which likely won’t happen. Aside from McSorley’s health, we have special teams that are anything but special and PSU’s offense is pretty offensive at times. The third-down conversion rate is not improving — four for fourteen in this game.
A win is a win, so that’s good news. We made some lemonade from lemons. Do any of you see any bright spots as the boys prepare for the trip to the Big House?
I’ll be back during the week with more unseemly comments. PSU will probably move up to #14 or #15 so as to create a media hype game with the #5 Wolverines. Kickoff will be at 3:45 on Saturday.