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Iowa-Penn State Game Report: Grades, numbers, notes and more

Penn State Nittany Lions safety Nick Scott (4) intercepts the ball during the fourth quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Beaver Stadium. (Matthew O'Haren/USA TODAY Sports)
Penn State Nittany Lions safety Nick Scott (4) intercepts the ball during the fourth quarter against the Iowa Hawkeyes at Beaver Stadium. (Matthew O'Haren/USA TODAY Sports)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A look at No. 18 Iowa’s 30-24 loss to No. 16 Penn State Saturday at Beaver Stadium.

Play of the game

The Set Up: Iowa started at its 25 with 8:24 left in the game trailing 30-24.

Iowa’s offense hadn’t done much to this point. OK, it didn’t do much most of the game, but the Hawkeyes finally gouged out some rhythm against a terrific Penn State defense.

On a third-and-10, quarterback Nate Stanley hit running back Mekhi Sargent for a 15-yard gain. On third-and-10 at Penn State’s 17, Stanley hit wide receiver Brandon Smith for a 14-yard gain and a first down at the 3.

It was pretty great to be Iowa at this point. Oh, the Hawkeyes even had all of their timeouts.

What Happened: It’s kind of hard to say. The play clock went whoosh, and Stanley didn’t see the look from Penn State that he wanted to see. The clock ticked down. Stanley killed the play, waving his arms like he was signaling a field goal that was wide right.

Time is down to the nub at this point. Center Keegan Render looked down and saw 4 seconds. Stanley called for the ball before he was fully squared up to the center.

Somebody needed to call a timeout. Head coach Kirk Ferentz tried. He sprinted down the sideline. The field judge saw him and made a halfhearted attempt to stop the play, but the play went on.

This isn’t just on Stanley. Everyone takes a bite. Anyone could’ve called timeout.

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The Result: Penn State pressured Stanley all night. Iowa’s offensive line had matchup issues, particularly on the inside.

The pressure came from the edge. A rusher closed on Stanley like a weather system. He freaked out and threw into three defenders. PSU safety Nick Scott made the easy interception.

Stanley has equity. He’s going nowhere in terms of starting QB. At some point, everyone runs out of “get out of jail free” cards. He can’t have too many more freak out, “throw it up for grabs” moments. Everyone knows it.

— Marc Morehouse

Grades

Mike Hlas: C-

Defensive touchdown? Check. Special teams trick-play touchdown? Check. Offensive touchdowns? Hello? Hello?

Marc Morehouse: C

There’s a clip on social media showing Herky getting drilled in the privates on an errant pass by Stanley. That’s the grade.

Notes

• Saturday’s 11 a.m. games sure seemed to sweetly set up Iowa. Northwestern upset Wisconsin, Michigan State beat Purdue, and suddenly Northwestern and Iowa were the only one-loss teams in the Big Ten West. With Northwestern still facing a game at Iowa, a Hawkeyes win in their midafternoon game at Penn State would have put them in good shape to make a November run at an outright West title.

But the Hawkeyes joined the Badgers and Boilermakers as Saturday sad-sacks. They squandered an early 12-0 lead and lost, 30-24.

• Nate Stanley had one of his worst games at Iowa, completing just 18 of 49 passes for with a bad, bad interception that set up Penn State’s second touchdown and an even worse one with 3:18 left in the game with Iowa in a first-and-goal at the Lions 3.

Also, Stanley badly overthrew a wide-open T.J. Hockenson in the second quarter after Stanley made a world-class fake of a handoff on third-and-1 at the PSU 48. He also missed an open Noah Fant late in the third quarter, costing his team a first down on third-and-4.

• The first half was peculiar, to say the least.

Iowa got two safeties, both gift-wrapped by messy snaps on Penn State punts. The Hawkeyes fumbled the ball three times, but lost none of them. And, their touchdown pass in the half that ended 17-17 was a 10-yarder thrown by punter Colten Rastetter to defensive end Sam Brincks.

“The only thing weirder than that Iowa play was the fact it worked,” tweeted Josh Moyer of the Daily Centre Times, and he was right. Brincks, who had never caught a pass in college or high school (Carroll Kuemper) made a nice over-the-shoulder reception.

Penn State got the ball at its 42 with 37 seconds left in the half because Iowa tried to get tricky in on fourth-and-10 and got stopped for no gain. Three plays later, the Nittany Lions had tied the game at 17 on a 45-yard field goal for some feel-good to take to its locker room while the Hawkeyes could only ask themselves where that lead went.

It was gone for good.

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• The announced attendance was 105,244. But several thousand seats were empty, undoubtedly due primarily to the rain that persisted for a few hours before the game and resumed in the second half.

• A moment of silence was held before the game for the 11 people murdered by a shooter Saturday at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, 115 miles from State College.

By the Numbers

1 — Geno Stone’s interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter was Iowa’s first pick-6 of the season. The Hawkeyes had four in 2017.

2 — Iowa got two safeties on failed punt attempts by Penn State. The first was caused by Dominique Dafney blocking a punt. The second was all Penn State, when it snapped the ball out of the end zone.

3 — Iowa averaged just 3 yards per play in the first half and 4 in the game.

5 — Iowa has lost five straight games to Penn State.

11 — There were 11 quarterback sacks in the game. Penn State had six.

49 — Miguel Recinos of Iowa and Penn State’s Jake Pinegar made career-long 49-yard field goals. Ankeny’s Pinegar is the first Nittany Lion to make three field goals of 40 or more yards in a game since 2013.

330 — Iowa punter Colten Rastetter’s career passing efficiency rating is 330.4. His 10-yard touchdown pass made him 3-for-3 for 43 yards and the one score.

Injury report

Iowa cornerback Matt Hankins, who has been out of action for over a month with a wrist injury, was held out again Saturday. Hawkeyes fullback Brady Ross (foot) missed a second-straight game.

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Iowa linebacker Jack Hockaday returned after a two-game absence with a knee injury. He recovered a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley left the game in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury. He missed two offensive series, returned for a three-and-out, and was on the sideline for his team’s final possession of the first half. He returned in the second half, and did enough damage to Iowa’s defense to win the game.

Up next

Iowa plays at Purdue next Saturday at 2:30 p.m. The Boilermakers (4-4, 3-2 Big Ten) lost at Michigan State Saturday, 23-13.

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