September 21, 2017

The Eternal Season - Sedge's 2017 Hawkeye Football Game Notes, Week 4: Penn State @ Iowa

Sedge's Hawkeye Football Game Notes - 2017 Edition
Iowa’s Record: 3-0, 0-0 Big Ten, 0-0 B1G West 
Iowa’s Rankings:
AP: 2 votes
Coaches: 6 votes
College Football Playoff:
*Times Eastern

September 2nd, v. Wyoming, WIN 24-3
September 9th, @ Iowa State, WIN 44-41 OT
September 16th, v. North Texas, WIN 31-14
September 23rd, v. Penn State, 7:42 pm, ABC/ESPN
September 30th,  @ Michigan State, 4:00 pm, FOX
October 7th, v. •Illinois, 12:00 pm, TBD
October 15th, Bye Week
October 21st, @ •Northwestern, TBD
October 28th, v. •Minnesota, TBD
November 4th, v. Ohio State, TBD
November 11th, @ •Wisconsin, TBD
November 18th, v. •Purdue, TBD
November 24th, @ •Nebraska, 4:00 pm, FS1 Black Friday

•Big Ten West Division Game

December 2nd, Big Ten Championship Game
Lucas Oil Arena, Indianapolis  

Scouting next opponent: 
September 23rd, Notre Dame @ Michigan State, 8:00 pm, Fox

*Wondering which BTN channel we are on? Click, enter, find.
September 23rd, 2017: Iowa v #4 Penn State Nittany Lions, 3-0, 0-0 Big Ten, 0-0 B1G East
Previous Meetings: 26 , Lions lead 14-12 
Last Meeting: 2016, Hawkeyes 14 Nittany Lions 41

Kinnick Color of the Week: Stripes

Current Line: Iowa +13.5

Turnover Margin: -1,  B1G #10 FBS #78

Interceptions: 4, B1G #3, FBS #19

Hawkeye Stat Pack - 2017 Through Week 3
Total   398.3  Pass 218.3  Rush 180.0  Scoring 33.0
B1G    #10           #8                #9                    #6
FBS    #78    #74              #59                  #54
Total   335.0  Pass 238.0 Rush 97.0     Scoring 19.3
B1G    #7               #7              #6                    #7
FBS    #41             #74            #23                  #40
Iowa                 3-0, 0-0 B1G, 0-0 B1G West
Wisconsin   3-0, 0-0 B1G, 0-0 B1G West
Minnesota   3-0, 0-0 B1G, 0-0 B1G West
Illinois     2-1, 0-0 B1G, 0-0 B1G West
Northwestern   2-1, 0-0 B1G, 0-0 B1G West
Purdue     2-1, 0-0 B1G, 0-0 B1G West
Nebraska     1-2, 0-0 B1G, 0-0 B1G West
WEEK 3  North Texas

This was another game where the Hawks started a bit slowly (well, the first drive ended on that fumble out of the end zone, though no video we ever saw clearly showed the ball out before it crossed the goal line).  But after trailing 14-10 at the half, the Hawks retooled at halftime, and shut out the Mean Green in the 2nd half, while the Hawks pulled away to a 31-14 win - that was almost 38-14, but Iowa sat on the ball for the final minute from inside the 2 yard line, typical Kirk not rubbing it in on a vanquished opponent

Some notes from this game - Nate now has 10 td passes in his first 3 starts, the last time an Iowa QB had 10 in 3 games, 1987 (Hartlieb), before that, Long in 1985.  So the young Stanley is continuing to find Iowa record books in his sights.  

Nate was 16 for 27 for 197 yards, with those two touchdowns, and one more lost fumble - but no interceptions again, just 1 on the season so far. 

Catches, Wadley 2 for 80 - and in one of the worst calls I have ever seen, his long td reception was wiped out by a ridiculous unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for ‘high stepping’ - never mind as he was at about the 15, a defensive player dove at his legs from behind, and Wadley had to ‘high step’ to get out of the tackle.  Everyone thought that Iowa would be forced to kickoff from 15 yards further back, but no, the td was taken off the board, and Iowa had the ball back at the 21.  This was the drive that ended with Hockenson catching his first Iowa touchdown, on a ball not meant for him, that was tipped at the line, and just dropped into his lap.  Sometime, better to be lucky than good.  But good to see him continue to work his way into the offense, another weapon opposite Fant for defenses to worry about.

Then Easley 5 for 37 - and the fumble, or not fumble.  Fant, 2 for 30, and one td, Hockenson 3 for 29 and the tip td, First Down 3 for 19, and it was just for 2 yards, but now Brandon Smith, the heir apparent to outside receiver, had his first Iowa catch.  Another weapon for Nate in the games ahead.

Wadley did get back in after his penalty/touchdown, but he only had 8 carries for 24 yards.  He did seem to tweak an ankle during that 2nd quarter, but seems good to go this Saturday.  

Butler, 16 for 74 - though he is now out with a hyperextended elbow.  Kirk says he will be back after our bye week, the 2nd week of October.  

But all was not lost on the ground, as we saw the future of Iowa tailbacks, and the future is good.  

Young, 19 for 78 yards, and Kelly-Martin, 11 for 74, and 2 tds.  Glad both of them got in this past week and got some notable carries, as we can use them to spell Wadley in these tougher games coming up.  Iowa hit 238 on the ground in this one, and we had 86 plays and over 40 minutes in time of possession.  Clinical.

And with Boettger out we saw the retooled O line, but they played well in both pass protection and run blocking.  We now go like this across the line, from the left side:

Alaric Jackson, redshirt freshman, 6’7, 320 
Boone Myers, 6’5, 310, senior
Daniels the Younger, 6’5, 295, junior
Keegan Render, 6’4 310, junior
Sean Welsh, 6’3, 295, senior

Again here, good for Iowa to get this new line into action last week, so they will be used to each other this week.  

With this win, Iowa has now won 399 games at home (Iowa Field, Iowa Stadium, Kinnick Stadium).  And Kirk is now 5 victories short of matching his mentor Hayden Fry for most wins by a coach in Iowa history.  And look who should come calling.  

WEEK 4 Penn State

Oh, and look, the Hawks are opening the B1G at home! (not since 2012).

Last year’s aberration aside, the Hawks are actually 9 up and 8 down to Penn State since they entered the B1G in 1993.  Penn State has won the last 3 meetings, two of those in Happy Valley, the one in Iowa City in 2012, the 4-8 Hawkeye season.  But before this 3 game streak, Iowa had won 8 of the last 9 in the series.  

Time order was restored.  

Let's take a journey back in time to the year 2000.  Iowa had won just 1 game in Kirk’s 1st season, and things were not looking much better in 2000 - Iowa had managed to beat #25 Michigan State 21-16 on October 7th, but that was the lone win on the schedule when the Hawks headed to Happy Valley on November 4th:

(disregard the non-hd quality!)

A year later, Penn State came to Kinnick in week 3, (September 29th), where the Hawks sat at 2-0, and Penn State was 0-2.

There was a graphic on the screen during this game - since Iowa had beaten Penn State the year before, the Hawks were 3-1 - and Penn State was 1-3.

In 2002, Penn State was ranked #12 when Brad Banks and his Hawkeyes came to Happy Valley.

This was the first time your scribe took a trip to Happy Valley - and quite a game it was.

By this time, the Hawkeyes were clearly in the heads of Penn State.  Oh, and Iowa never did get their shot at Ohio State that year.  I’m sure the Hawks would have beaten the Buckeyes by 24 points.

In 2003, Penn State came back to Kinnick sitting at 2-5, while Iowa was 5-2 and ranked #15th.

In 2004, the Drew Tate era had arrived in Iowa City, and the Hawks returned to Happy Valley, as did your scribe.  Of course, this game came 6 days after Kirk’s father John had died, outside Pittsburg, at age 84.  I think the elder Ferentz would have been very proud with what his son had done at Iowa.  This, clearly, the strangest football game I have ever attended.

The clock was at 8:04 of the 4th when Iowa took the intentional safety (on the punt) to make the score 6-4, betting that Penn State could not, in fact, drive the ball far enough to get a game winning field goal.  They could not!  This game left Iowa at 3-1 in the Big Ten - and PSU at 0-4.  That OT win back in 2000 really did change the direction of not just Iowa - but also Penn State.

The Lions broke the Iowa 5 game winning streak in 2007, 27-7, and yes, I was there.  Really though, took very little crap from Penn State fans, they knew the recent history.  And oh yes, that made the next year 2008, when Penn State came to Kinnick again - but this time, ranked #3, at 9-0, while Iowa was just 5-4. Mid 30s with 30 mph winds.  Big Ten weather.

Murray joins the ‘never having to buy a beer in the state of Iowa’ club, but Iowa got that ball back thanks to the interception by Tyler Sash.  Rest in peace Tyler.

In 2009, the Hawks returned to Happy Valley, as did I, only to find that it was raining.  For the entire game.  Still, a good time had.  

All these years later, they still can’t block Clayborn….

This video is especially fun to watch, because it’s from Penn State Football Story, a pro PSU site.

In 2010, Penn State returns to Kinnick, under the lights again, where Iowa debuts the Striped Kinnick Stadium.  Iowa was ranked #17 and PSU #22 at the time.

That wraps up the decade of dominance Iowa had over Penn State.  Now it’s time to take down their 3 game winning streak, under the lights and stripes of Kinnick Saturday night.  Let’s take a look at the 2017 Lions.

They are also 3-0, having beaten Akron 52-0 in week 1 (Akron is 1-2, having also lost to Iowa State).  

In week 2, they had their in-state battle with Pitt, Penn State jumped out to a 14-0 lead, and mostly cruised home to a 33-14 win over their rival.

Then they went back to cup cake dom in week 3, taking on Georgia - oh wait, Georgia State.  

This was a 56-0 win, Georgia State is 0-2 on the season.  

Penn State is lead by now senior QB McSorley #9.  Through 3 games, he is 51 for 76, for 753 yards, with 9 tds, 2 interceptions, and he has been sacked just once.  He is a semi dual threat, rushing for a high of 48 yards against Akron, on 12 carries.  So while not a true dual threat who can run it on any play, he is mobile enough, the Hawks must keep him contained, and get him to the ground should he venture outside that containment.  
As with last year, most of the running is done by Barkley, #26, now a junior (likley jumping to NFL after this season). He has 38 carries for 307 yards, and 3 tds.  He has also caught 11 passes for 242 yards, and 2 receiving tds - including an 85 yard td pass, the longest in Beaver Stadium history.  

Those 11 catches do also mean Barkley is the leading receiver for Penn State, but the Lions have a 6’4 wideout named Johnson, #84, a junior.  To date, 7 catches for 105 yards.  

They do also use tight ends, and they have some good ones. So do we.  Line up, let’s see what happens.    

Barkley, like Wadley, is the kind of running back that can break long gains at any time.  The Hawks probably can’t take him away as they can with other running games, but they are going to have to keep him somewhere around half his average so Iowa can win the TOP battle.  

Likewise, look for Wadley, and the young guys, to do all they can to match the skills of Barkley - and the production.  Because if Iowa can continue to chew up long drives, it keeps the Penn State offense sitting on the sideline, listening to the just-feet-away Iowa faithful, reminding them of their losses to Iowa when ranked near the top of the polls.  

What do the stats tell us, now that the non-con is complete?

Well, PSU is not great at 3rd downs - only 36.7%, good for 10th in the conference, and 92nd overall.  Here, chances for the Iowa defense to get off the field, if they can keep Penn State ‘behind the chains.’

This Penn State team has not blocked any kicks, nor had any kicks blocked.  Clearly, special teams played a huge role in our Decade of Dominance over PSU.  Let’s see that happen again Saturday night!

Penn State does not commit many penalties, only 11 through 3 games, so the Hawks can’t count on a lot of charity.  

Their rush net per game is 187 - just 7 more than Iowa.  So as before, maybe the Hawks can limit the damage.  We may have to again be using more nickel and dime (which through the first 3 games, we seem to be using the most of any time in the Ferentz era), especially to keep Barkley from being an extra threat out of the backfield.  On the flip side, PSU gives up 126 average, on the ground, Pitt did go for 155 on the ground in their loss to PSU.  So Wadley et al will have chances to pick up some good gains.  

Here is one stat that bodes well for Iowa - while PSU has cruised to 3 easy victories, their time of possession average is 24.07 - dead last in the B1G, and only 3 schools average less nationally.  So, seems Iowa may be able to chew up chunks of clock, with Brian continuing to use the key plays that allow Iowa to keep moving down field.  

Of note in that regard, without unleashing a slew of new plays or formations, Brian has been definitely changing up Iowa tendencies - 1st down passes, passes out of running formations (like the OT game winning pass over Iowa State, that was a POWER I look with 1 solo wideout - a formation Iowa would always run from in the past). It certainly does raise the possibility, now that we have seen Nate take a step forward with his ball possessing skills (oh, and the 10 tds), that Brian may begin to unleash ‘newness’ under the lights, with a top 5 team paying a visit.  This would be a great week for Nate to connect on about 3 of those 50 yard passes. It will happen at some point - now would be a good time.

Otherwise, we are going to need the rebuilt Iowa O line to continue to find their common groove, and Nate needs to keep spreading the ball around, making it hard for Penn State to just focus on First Down, or Fant, or the fullbacks!

And then, there is this - in the post game after the loss to Penn State last year, some of the Lions players seemed to say to the media that it felt like Iowa ‘quit’ out there.

Well, the Hawks took out their vengeance on their remaining season, culminating in 40-10.  But this is the return trip by Penn State to Kinnick.  And you know the Iowa staff has video of those Penn State players in that postgame press conference on high rotation in the Iowa strength room and Iowa locker room.  WE BEAT - PENN STATE!

Watching the videos of the players this week, they all seem focused on what it is they have to do.  On defense, correct angles, gang tackling, containing McSorely in the pocket, and pounding him (no penalties!) should he venture out of it.  And the offense, well, 4 or so long, 85 plus yard drives would be great this week.  Rest the defense, keep PSU offense on the sideline, keep the 70,000 energized and in the game for all 60 minutes.  Well, if Nate does connect on 3 long td passes, we can play the quick strike offense too!  Want a shoot out Penn State?  We are the man in black!

Might that be all black?  We know Iowa is doing an alt jersey this year, all along thought it was for OSU.  Nothing has been leaked, image wise, as of this writing (Wednesday morning).  That said, the regular, black uniforms do look especially good at night.  Regardless, Penn State will know what hits them when the bell tolls Saturday night.  

Iowa rushes for 225 net, and that allows Nate to spread the ball around, and continue his assault on the Iowa record books with 4 more td passes - 2 of them longer than 50 yards.  The Iowa defense holds Penn State to 90 net on the ground, and picks off 3 McSorley passes, and we won’t need a last second field goal this time around.  

Hawkeyes 38,  Nittany Lions 30.


As you have probably heard, Iowa City did not get Game Day, but Times Square did - some of the Hawkeye board members will be lining up around 4:00 am to claim a spot inside the ‘pen’ around the stage.  Game Day airs from 9-12 eastern, so you can attend if you like, head home to nap, and still make it to Playwright by 7:30 for the 7:42 tip off.



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