116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Three cool things
1. I don't know how you guys feel about striped Kinnick Stadium, but I imagine you like it. This was the first one of those.
The UI asked fans to wear either black or gold, depending on where they sit, to create a striped effect throughout the stadium. People in odd-numbered sections and students were encouraged to wear black. Fans in even-number sections were asked to wear gold.
My initial reaction was doubting whether or not you guys could pull this off. This was a night game, a real night game with a 7 p.m. kick and everything. I've not been able to confirm, but I think I've heard Iowa fans like to tailgate.
I wondered if the beer quotient would allow this to happen. But no, you guys pull it off nicely.
I might've done a story on this. Director of football operations Paul Federici was behind it. So high-five him or whatever. Paul has yelled at me a few times over the years. Nothing personal. That's his job as director of football ops. I don't take it personally because I usually know when it's coming.
2. A true freshman linebacker named James Morris was inserted at linebacker. His watch lasted four seasons. One factlet that I didn't even know until researching this game was Morris became the first linebacker to lead the team in sacks since sacks became an official statistic in 1986.
3. I'll be honest, I don't remember much when it comes to night games. That's a roller-coaster ride that doesn't roll into the station until the lights go out at Kinnick (almost literally sometimes).
This is where the newspaper deadline takes a bite. I really try not to whine about those on social media. My problems aren't your problems.
I had to do a little digging to find a sidebar on Shaun Prater, the former Iowa defensive back from Omaha (hey, an early trailblazer across the Missouri).
Prater was fun to talk with. He told straight stories and usually left you with a few laughs.
Prater was one of those Iowa defensive backs who had the ball skills to play wide receiver if he wanted. In this one, he picked off a pass and returned it 33 yards for a TD.
In 2009, Prater picked off two passes for a grand total of 4 return yards. Teammates noticed that. Maybe coaches, too.
'Now he's got a return on film that we can actually show without laughing at him,' Kirk Ferentz said. 'Last year in this game, if you remember, he ran about three minutes off the clock after he picked it off and I think he lost 2 yards. But it was like the worst-ever return of an interception. We showed that a few times last year, so this will be a little bit more fun for him to watch.'
Tough crowd, tough crowd.
Quote: LB Jeremiha Hunter didn't say a ton while he was here. This quote on Morris stands out, especially upon reflection.
'He's the man, he's going to be a good player here. He's hard on himself and he works hard. If Troy and Tarp don't get back, he'll be the guy.'
And so he was.
Note: Rob Bolden was Penn State's QB in this one. He transferred to LSU. When that didn't work, he ended up at Eastern Michigan.
Why No. 65? — Ferentz had much better wins over Penn State. I think we're just getting to some of those.
IOWA CITY — The Hawkeyes needed this one.
Yes, it was just the first Big Ten game. Sure, there are seven more. Lots can happen.
But a serious Big Ten contender needs to win at home, a week before a bye and just before it goes into a buzz saw that might include three ranked teams that have scores to settle with the Hawkeyes from 2009.
A serious Big Ten contender needed this one. The No. 17 Hawkeyes held serve.
Iowa (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) breezed to a fat first-half lead and then milked it for a 24-3 victory over No. 22 Penn State (3-2, 0-1).
The Hawkeyes needed it and got it. They didn't get style points, but the 70,585 Kinnick Stadium fans nailed the black-and-gold striped-bleachers look, so maybe that's the style points. It'll have to do.
Iowa cornerback Shaun Prater sealed the scoring with a 33-yard interception return for a TD making it 24-3 with 1:27 left in the game.
The Hawkeyes go silent this week and then go to Michigan and host Wisconsin and Michigan State.
Just the Big Ten opener, but, yeah, they needed this one.
Quarterback Ricky Stanzi stayed on his career roll with 16 of 22 for 227 yards, a touchdown and an interception. He was especially on fire in the first half, when the Hawkeyes burst to a 17-3 lead. Stanzi completed 12 of 15 for 143 yards and a 9-yard TD to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos.
Iowa's defense stuffed Penn State and freshman quarterback Rob Bolden. The total yards in the first quarter went 148 for Iowa to 1 for Penn State. Singular.
The defense made its biggest play of the night with 7:11 left in the third quarter.
Penn State marched 70 yards to Iowa's 1. On fourth-and-goal, Bolden broke right on a rollout that was run all the way. Linebacker Jeremiha Hunter slowed Bolden and tackle Christian Ballard buried him inches short of the goal line.
The ball never broke the plane and the officials' call held up under review.
From there, the Hawkeyes just threw a headlock on the Lions.
Penn State, already looking out of its element, was booted out of its element late in the first half.
The Lions, down 10-0, drove to Iowa's 44 and were poised to pin the Hawkeyes deep in their territory. But punter Anthony Fera shanked a 12-yarder that set up Iowa at its 32.
Stanzi hit Marvin McNutt, who led Iowa with five catches for 93 yards, for back-to-back 18 yard gains, moving the ball to PSU's 32. Running back Adam Robinson, who finished with for 95 yards, carried five times to the 1-inch line and Stanzi took it from there for his second career TD and a 17-0 Iowa lead with 1:41 left before halftime.
Down 17 points, PSU was out of any game plan on offense that it had coming into Kinnick.
And it almost worked.
The Hawkeyes seemed to have halted everything in the first half when safety Brett Greenwood stepped in front of a Bolden pass and intercepted at around midfield. But Iowa defensive tackle Mike Daniels was called for roughing the passer after leaving his feet to put a hit on Bolden, giving PSU new life and first down at Iowa's 49.
Two plays later, Bolden hit Brett Brackett for a 46-yard gain to Iowa's 3. Brackett got away from Iowa corner Shaun Prater, who recovered and, ultimately, saved four points with his tackle.
Penn State lined up as if it were going to go for a TD, but a false start moved the ball to the 8 and Collin Wagner booted a 25-yard field goal to pull the Lions within 17-3 at halftime.
Midway through the second quarter, the Hawkeyes found themselves down to freshman James Morris at middle linebacker.
Senior Jeff Tarpinian suffered a stinger against Ball State and yielded to senior Troy Johnson, who suffered what appeared to be a concussion in the second quarter. Tarpinian tried to go, but took a shot to the shoulder and had to leave the game. Morris went in for the first real football of his career.
The Hawkeyes' defense came up big on Penn State's first drive of the second half.
Penn State's big adjustment was going to a short passing game, matching quick running backs and wide receivers against linebackers Morris, Hunter and Tyler Nielsen.
It worked, too. Bolden completed 7 of 8 for 55 yards to help move the Lions to Iowa's 1. After a controversial timeout from Penn State's sideline, nullifying a delay-of-game penalty which did draw a flag, the Lions faced a fourth-and-1.
The call was a rollout for Bolden that was all run. He had space near the goal line, but Ballard finished him inches from a TD and a 17-10 game.
The play held up under review and the Hawkeyes' 17-3 lead held up, too.
The Hawkeyes held up and held serve.