NCAA Week Five: Penn State vs. Iowa

The ground game is back. (Gene J. Puskar/AP)

PSU: 2010 record – 3-1
IOWA: 2010 record – 3-1
Spread: Iowa by 7
Where: Kinnick Stadium
When: Saturday, 8:05 PM on ESPN
Last time met: Sept. 6, 2009 – Penn State was upset again by the Hawkeyes 21-10.  The Hawkeyes blocked a Jeremy Boone punt and Adrian Clayborn ran it in for a late Iowa touchdown.

Opposing player to watch – RB Adam Robinson: Robinson is having a great year so far averaging 5.5 yards per carry.  He gashed Penn State for 88 yards and a touchdown in last year’s contest.  Robinson has carried for over 100 yards in three out of four Iowa games this season.  He is a very small back but has a good amount of power and always keeps his legs moving.  Robinson could pose a problem once again for the Nittany Lions front seven.

Offenses: Penn State’s red zone efficiency was a huge problem last Saturday against Temple.  Robert Bolden drove the Nittany Lions deep into Temple territory many times during the game.  Following the Youngstown State game, Penn State has only scored in two out of their last 11 red zone trips.  The offense has plenty of talent to put the ball into the end zone.  Evan Royster showed the nation that he is still one of the best backs in the country.  Royster ripped off 187 rushing yards on the Temple Owls defense.  Brett Brackett and Derek Moye have also been huge so far this season.  The duo combined for eight catches last week.  However the offense only managed one touchdown last week, coming on goal line carry by fullback Michael Zordich.

The Iowa offense has put some a lot of points this season.  In their first four games this season, the Hawkeyes have scored 144 points.  Ricky Stanzi has looked great and is back on top of his game.  Stanzi has thrown nine touchdowns and only one interception so far.  Now three of these games were against the likes of Eastern Illinois, Iowa State, and Ball State.  Stanzi threw three touchdowns and one interception in their only challenging game against Arizona.  The Hawkeyes fell short but Stanzi was certainly not the reason for that.  Adam Robinson will have to have a big game if the Hawkeyes want to upend the Nittany Lions again.  The Hawkeyes also have a nice receiver trio of Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Allen Reisner, and Marvin McNutt.  The trio has combined for 41 catches and six touchdowns this season.  They benefit from the elevated play of Stanzi.

Advantage: Iowa has the advantage in the passing game due to Stanzi being a veteran signal caller.  Both teams have good running games but the Hawkeyes have a slight edge overall.

Defenses: The Nittany Lions’ defense gave up two touchdowns to Bernard Pierce last Saturday and didn’t play very well overall.  Penn State is giving up about 155 passing yards per game this season.  The defense will be challenged this week facing a good signal caller in Stanzi.  The Nittany Lion defense challenged Temple quarterback Chester Stewart to beat them with his arm last week.  It resulted in a late interception for Penn State and led them to the victory.  They are fourth in the Big Ten in sacks with seven.  Getting pressure on Stanzi will be a huge key for the Nittany Lions this week.  Jack Crawford and Ollie Ogbu will have to be active for the defense to be effective.

The Hawkeyes are coming off a shutout but it was against Ball State.  They have only given up four touchdowns so far this season and an average 227 yards per game.  As the same for the Nittany Lions, the Hawkeyes haven’t faced a very high level of competition.  They are tied with Penn State for fifth in the Big Ten in interceptions with five.  The Hawkeyes always have a solid defense that gives Penn State problems.  Penn State will have to watch out for senior Adrian Clayborn on the defensive line.  Clayborn was huge for the Hawkeyes in last year’s contest.  The last two years they have upset Penn State and ruined their National Championship hopes.  This has been behind a strong defense that stifled former quarterback Darryl Clark.  It will be interesting to see how Bolden performs under the lights at Kinnick Stadium.

Advantage: Penn State has the slight edge with a very effective pass rush.  Pressure on Stanzi will be a very big key.

Injury Report:
Penn State: OT Lou Eliades (Torn ACL) *Out for the season
Alabama: K Dan Murray (hip flexor) *Could play on Saturday

Prediction: Penn State finally shrugs off the past disappointments against Iowa and wins a close battle 24-20.

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Filed under Adam Robinson, Adrian Clayborn, Allen Reisner, Beaver Stadium, Dan Murray, Derek Moye, Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, Evan Royster, Iowa Hawkeyes, Jack Crawford, Kinnick Stadium, Lou Eliades, Marvin McNutt, Michael Zordich, Ollie Ogbu, Penn State Nittany Lions, Ricky Stanzi, Temple Owls

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