After leading the Penn State Nittany Lions 90 yards down the field, QB Matt McGloin threw an interception in the end zone late in the third quarter. Iowa took over at the 20 yard line and I thought to myself, “this is where the Hawkeyes turn it around and come back to beat Penn State.” Then something unusual happened — Iowa didn’t come back and Penn State marched down the field and scored the game’s only touchdown to win.
It has been a long time since a Penn State football game was as fun as the one on Saturday. The Nittany Lions reverted to crog-magnon football — fun the up the middle over and over again. They did it for the best reason, because they could. The PSU offensive line had perhaps its best game since the 2007 Outback Bowl when the stream-rolled over the Tennessee Volunteers. Late in the game, the Lions pounded the ball down Iowa’s throat 10 straight times before a McGloin 2 yard touchdown pass to TE Kevin Haplea. Slias Redd, Curtis Dukes and Joe Suhey combined to have only run less than 4 yards as the Hawkeyes were worn down. It was beautiful.
Penn State had almost 36 minutes of possession. Part of that is because the Hawkeyes ran with no-huddle at times, but mostly it was because Penn State controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. After an initial field goal drive, Iowa did not threaten much. Despite facing a weakened Penn State secondary, Iowa could not take advantage of it. The defense was more aggressive than normal with more blitzing that we have seen in a long time from coordinator Tom Bradley. Gerald Hodges was the main attacker and he had his best game thus far. The defensive backs had a great day containing the Iowa wideouts who came in with a bit of acclaim.
The PSU quarterback situation is nearly resolved, at least in most of the fans eyes. Terrible end zone interception aside, McGloin looks more comfortable as the signal caller and has had a better season. Rob Bolden may have more upside, but he has not shown it yet. 3 for 7 with all catches coming off of deflections (including one off of an official foot!) hasn’t helped his cause. He looks lost out there. I feel for him, he got thrown into a tough situation being a true freshman starter last year, but if anything he’s regressed. McGloin however, may be improving, though anybody can hand off 10 times in a row. Right now, McGloin is the best answer for the Nittany Lions.
The Nittany Lions are now 5-1 and 2-0 in the Big Ten with Purdue (3-2, 1-0) on the way for Homecoming next Saturday at noon.