Published: Sun, September 24, 2017
Sport | By Wilson Duncan

Penn State's rocky road to the College Football Playoff

Penn State's rocky road to the College Football Playoff

Penn State football and Iowa are locked in a weird slugfest. The Nittany Lions are winning the turnover battle, second best in the nation, and one of the least penalized teams through three games.

Unfortunately, Nebraska, Iowa's scheduled opponent, was unable to make the journey east because of an illness that swept through the team, and that game has been rescheduled for October 18. But teams have run well on the Hawkeyes.

After watching Penn State steamroll his Hawkeyes 41-14 past year, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz knows his team's margin for error will be tiny. As we've seen with the high-powered Penn State offense, opposing teams need all the scoring they can get. Juwan Johnson is a matchup problem for Iowa, though. Saquon Barkley accounted for 211 yards and two touchdowns against Iowa previous year in the trashing in Happy Valley. If anyone can solve the riddle, they can.

Barkley is second nationally with 218.3 all-purpose yards per game. None of their starters weigh in at more than 310 pounds, in fact. When Barkley arrived at Penn State, Franklin challenged him to become more involved in the passing game. Last November, Iowa also essentially derailed Michigan's run to the College Football Playoff. With 10:02 left in the fourth, the Hawkeyes finally hit a big play when Stanley found Wadley for a 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown.

A day after dropping their first match of the year, the #2 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions bounced back, pulling out a hard fought victory over the visiting Iowa Hawkeyes in four sets.

He went on to talk about how the white gloves most players wear seem to take on a bluish hue under the lights. But, they've combined for just one tackle for loss, and in a way, they've been typical of the Penn State defense. They've been solid, but not spectacular.

"We know Northwestern never gives up.they're very competitive and they're so well coached that they keep coming back", said head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss.

There will be plenty of opportunities this week, assuming Iowa tries to do what it always does: Establish its running game early.

The Nittany Lions have only given up one touchdown all season.

The two are likely to collide frequently Saturday night as No. 4 Penn State visits Iowa City. Also, half of his kickoffs have gone for touchbacks. Penn State has a decided edge in the punting game with sophomore Blake Gillikin.

The Hawkeyes have been on both sides against Penn State. Cabinda will be tasked with shutting down Wadley and Iowa's ground game, and though safety Marcus Allen is usually down in the box with Cabinda, it's the linebacker who makes calls and shifts to the front seven. But, again, Penn State is covering kicks as well as anybody in the country right now.

One thing Iowa is known for is its pink visiting locker room, created to have some sort of psychological effect on the opposing players.

In that span, the Nittany Lions will host No. 8 Michigan in a "white-out" night contest on October 21, then visit No. 10 Ohio State on October 28 and the east's other consistent threat, Michigan State, on November 4.

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