Iowa 23, Penn State 20
This morning, I am hearing and reading lamentations about what might have been, had injuries not plagued the Nittany Lions in their epic battle with the Iowa Hawkeyes. Able to score only three points after QB Sean Clifford departed midway through the second quarter, Penn State went down in defeat to the opportunistic Iowa Hawkeyes, 23-20. We will never know what might have been had Clifford stayed healthy.
Rehashing the stats seems pointless, but I’ll do so anyway, just to demonstrate that the game could have gone either way.
Penn State was able to move the ball well prior to Clifford’s injury. Then all hell broke loose.
This Turkey’s assessment of the Ta’Quan Roberson situation was that the offense’s failure under his stewardship was not entirely his fault. That is a helluva rough situation for a rookie to be thrown into. Clearly, he was unprepared, as was the entire offensive unit. Repeated false start penalties with no adjustments to compensate for crowd noise bit them in the ass. We pride ourselves in our ability to do that to other teams in Beaver Stadium, so it should be no surprise that we would face the same problems in spirited hostile venues. We had no answers for it.
The disparity between Clifford’s numbers and Roberson’s should come as no surprise. Clifford was 15-25 for 146 yards with two interceptions, while Roberson was 7-21 for 34 yards and two more interceptions. Clifford was the leading rusher for Penn State with three carries for 36 yards. Meanwhile, opposing QB Spencer Petras was 17-31 for 195 yards with two TDs and one INT.
Clifford’s initial unnecessary interception turned into three points that wound up being Iowa’s victory margin.
While our boys were outlasted by Iowa, LSU was being dismantled by Will Levis and his 6-0 Kentucky team. Levis threw three touchdown passes and no interceptions in that game. However, with Kentucky’s rushing attack, Levis is not solely responsible for the Wildcats’ success this season. They ran all over LSU for a total of 330 yards on the ground.
Nevertheless, you have to wonder whether Levis could have done better than Roberson — or would have have been equally unprepared to step in had he not taking the transfer portable greyhound to Kentucky?
Penn State’s rushing defense suffered when Mustipher left with an injury in the first quarter. Iowa was able to amass 110 yards on the ground.
Iowa remains undefeated at 6-0, while Penn State goes to 5-1. Iowa might well ascend to #2 in the polls this week, given Alabama’s defeat by Texas A&M. As for the Nittany Lions, they’ll get knocked back to 10 or 12 or so. We’ll see.
Not much else to say except that Iowa didn’t give up when they were down 14-3. They worked their way back slowly, but surely, as is their tradition.
“Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.'”
— John Greenleaf Whittier
(I’ll be back midweek with my assessment of the big showdown with 2-5 Illinois).