Final Thoughts: No. 17 Penn State 30, No. 18 Iowa 24

By Matt de Bear on October 27, 2018 at 7:36 pm
Oct 27, 2018; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Tommy Stevens (2) runs the ball during the second quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't pretty, especially for the first 30 minutes, but Penn State is back in the win column at home, knocking off Iowa 30-24. The win moves the Lions to 6-2 on the season, and 3-2 in the Big Ten heading into next weekend's big game in Ann Arbor. 

  • Brent Pry's defense deserves a ton of credit. None of the Hawkeyes' scores came from their offense, instead relying on special teams and timely turnovers to score their 24 points. The line was very good for much of the game, led by Yetur Gross-Matos' career day. The unit also came up with a big turnover at their own five, when Nick Scott picked off Nate Stanley to halt a potential go-ahead drive. John Reid's interception also set up a Nittany Lion touchdown with a big return.
  • Trace McSorley deserves a ton of credit for gutting out an apparent right leg injury. He of course had the big 51-yard run to put the Lions on top early in the third quarter, but was not quite himself, especially in passing situations. Tommy Stevens was effective in relief, throwing a pair of big passes to set up a Jake Pinegar field goal to tie the game at halftime, and scoring one on the ground himself to tie the game at 14.
  • Speaking of Pinegar, he picked quite the time to have a breakout performance against his home state Hawkeyes. The true freshman was perfect on three field goals and three extra points, including a career long 49-yard kick to put Penn State up 27-17, and another from 44 to give the Lions a six-point advantage in the final quarter.
  • In the span of three plays, Penn State turned the ball over twice in the fourth quarter, including a pick-six that pulled Iowa within three at the time. The other negated at least a field goal attempt, as McSorley and Miles Sanders botched the exchange inside the Iowa 10. It's that lack of execution that has plagued the Nittany Lions in blowing leads against Ohio State and Michigan State. Credit the defense for stepping up when they needed to and preserving the win.
  • Special teams is a big issue that is not getting any better. A dropped snap led to one safety, and a bad snap led to a second two-pointer. Iowa's lone first half touchdown came courtesy of a, uh, fake something as well. Phil Galiano's unit has struggled mightily through eight games, and is showing no signs of improvement. For as much time as James Franklin says his team spends in this phase of the game, it is very fair to question if the man running things on that side of the ball is up to the task.
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