Three Nittany Lions to Watch at Iowa

By Barry Leonard on October 10, 2019 at 9:30 am
Oct 5, 2019; University Park, PA, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions defensive end Shaka Toney (18) sacks Purdue Boilermakers quarterback Jack Plummer (13) during the second quarter at Beaver Stadium.  John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

When does a 28-point win feel like a let-down? When you score nearly all of your points within a 16-minute span and fail to score for nearly a three-quarter stretch. Penn State jumped all over Purdue last week but experienced a major lull before ultimately moving to 5-0 on the season. 

This week, the Nittany Lions travel west to take on one of their nemeses – the Iowa Hawkeyes. Going into Kinnick Stadium is never an easy task, especially at night with the Hawkeyes coming off a close loss.

Penn State needs to stick with what has been working this year on offense and lean on a defense that is arguably the fastest and best in the country. That being said, there are several players who need to have big games in order for the Nittany Lions to emerge victoriously. 

Keep an eye on the following Nittany Lions as they try to lead the team to victory.

RB Noah Cain 

Penn State has used a committee approach to the run game so far in 2019. While Journey Brown looked like the early favorite to nab the most playing time, true freshman Noah Cain has quickly emerged as one of the favorites in the backfield. 

Cain enjoyed a breakout performance against Purdue last week, rushing for a team-high 105 yards on 12 carries. He scored a touchdown and averaged nearly nine yards per carry. 

A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Cain has shown why he was considered one of the best running backs available in the 2019 class. For the season, Cain is second on the team with 208 rushing yards and leads the Nittany Lions with five rushing touchdowns. 

DE Shaka Toney

Shaka Toney had himself a game on Saturday. He spent the entire afternoon in the Purdue backfield and racked up four total tackles, including three sacks. Toney was the definitive leader of the Wild Dogs and made his name known. 

While all the talk entering the season centered on Robert Windsor and Yetur Gross-Matos, Toney has quickly become a focal point fo the defensive line.

Iowa doesn't bring a prolific offense to this game, and they will struggle against the front seven of the Nittany Lions. Toney could be in store for another big day. Look for him to make things tough on Nate Stanley and the Hawkeye offense. 

TE Pat Freiermuth 

The tight end position has become a position of strength for the Nittany Loins over the past few seasons. From Kyle Carter to Adam Breneman to Mike Gesicki, Penn State has enjoyed a lot of success at that position. Pat Freiermuth is next in that line of great Penn State tight ends.

Freiermuth broke out last year as a dangerous weapon for quarterback Trace McSorley, and this year he's a favorite target for Sean Clifford. The sophomore tight end is second on the team with three receiving touchdowns and third in yards with 178.

Freiermuth is a beast when he goes across the middle and has proven to be a nightmare matchup for linebackers. He had just three catches for 17 yards last week, but he caught a touchdown and got the tough yardage when needed.

Freiermuth may not be flashy, but he's productive and an important piece of the Penn State offense. Look for a big game from the tight end on Saturday night.