Hawkeyes Can't Find Rhythm at Penn State
Oct. 8, 2011
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - They played a Big Ten Conference football game in Penn State University's Beaver Stadium Saturday. Hard-hitting, low-scoring and, as is usually the case, the team that won the battle of ball possession and was on the right side in the turnover column won the game.
On this particular day, it was Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions that amassed a 12-minute edge in time of possession and also forced three fourth-quarter turnovers to snap a three-game losing streak to the Iowa Hawkeyes with a 13-3 victory.
Like a heavyweight boxing match, both teams wanted to run the ball. The home team ran it hard and ran it often, gaining 231 yards on 46 carries. Silas Redd collected 142 yards on 28 carries. Curtis Dukes added another 60 on nine attempts.
The Hawkeyes countered with Marcus Coker. He bruised the Nittany Lion defense for 74 yards on 16 carries. However, Iowa was credited with only 84 total rushing yards, a number that was cut significantly by five Penn State sacks for minus 40 yards.
"We looked good early. We moved the ball on the first two drives but couldn't finish. In the second half, we just never got into a rhythm. Our defense couldn't get off the field and the offense couldn't stay on it," said Kirk Ferentz, who is now 7-4 in games against Paterno, the winningest coach in the history of NCAA Division I football.
"They just did a better job of handling the critical situations. We couldn't match their tempo. Credit goes to them," Ferentz continued. "We knew they we were a good defensive team and they showed it today. It was probably their best defensive game of the year."
Penn State won the turnover battle 3-1. The Nittany Lions converted on only five of 14 third downs, but two came on the game's only touchdown drive.
Trailing 6-3 at the start of the fourth quarter, Iowa muscled its way to the Penn State 45. However, on 3-and-7, PSU's Nate Supar recovered a fumble by UI quarterback James Vandenberg, who was being hammered from the blind side on one of Penn State's many second-half blitzes. Eleven plays and 49-yards later, the Nittany Lions had done just enough to put the game away, scoring the game's only touchdown on a 2-yard pass from quarterback Matt McGloin to tight end Kevin Haplea.
McGloin shared the quarterbacking duties in the first half with Rob Bolden. He ran the Penn State offense for all but one series in the second stanza. He completed 12 of his 19 throws but was picked once in the end zone by the UI's Micah Hyde in the third quarter.
The first half was classic Big Ten football: Eight total possessions that resulted in three field goals: A pair of 20-yarders by the Nittany Lions' Antony Fera to open and close the scoring with a 23-yarder by Iowa's Mike Meyer sandwiched between.
Iowa had a five-yard advantage in the passing game, 169-164, but the Hawkeye passing game didn't hit on all cylinders except maybe for the first two series when they advanced to the Penn State 33 and 5-yard lines. Vandenberg completed 17 of 34 passes and was nicked for a pair of fourth quarter interceptions when the Hawkeyes were in hurry-up mode and Penn State was sagging against the deep pass.
Penn State's passing total was boosted by completions on five tipped passes during the first half including one that slipped through the fingers of Iowa linebacker Tyler Nielson. Had the senior secured the ball, Nielson would have walked into the end zone with a "Pick 6." Another Penn State pass in the same drive ricocheted off the umpire and into the hands of a Nittany Lion for a gain of 19 yards.
A very bright spot for the Hawkeyes was another strong shwoing by punter Eric Guthrie. The senior had two 49-yard kicks and dropped another pair of kicks inside the 20.
Iowa plays four of its next five games at historic Kinnick Stadium beginning with next Saturday's prime time date with the Northwestern Wildcats in the annual Black and Gold Spirit Game. The Iowa-Northwestern game is also the inaugural "ANF Day at Kinnick," a celebration of American's farmers staged in cooperation with the Iowa Farm Bureau. Kickoff is set for shortly after 6 p.m. Iowa time
"We have a team that's capable of growing. Each time out, we have to get better. We have to learn. If we do that, we'll become a better football team. That's where our focus is," said Ferentz.