All the talk this week leading up to our prime-time clash in Kinnick Stadium seems to be focused on the past and whether the Hawkeyes have what it takes to muster up another upset. We've seen visions of 2008 thrown in our face, when a then No. 5-ranked Penn State left Iowa licking its wounds. The thought of it still feels like a knife in the chest. We’ve been reminded of the follow-up game a year later when an unranked Hawkeye squad walked onto our turf and smacked us square in the jaw once again in ’09. We've been told all week long that Head Coach Kirk Ferentz, a Pennsylvania-native, and his mighty Hawkeyes used to be a major thorn in our sides. He even went as far himself as to acknowledge that this is a revenge game for him personally. Not because of the 41-14 annihilation they suffered last November, but because he wasn’t recruited by Penn State out of high school. We've heard the story countless times and his anger runs just as deep as it always has.
We’ve all seen the promos this week on ABC; the shots of Kinnick Stadium rockin', all decked out in Black and Gold stripes. We've seen their fans storm the field after one of those patented Iowa upsets. After watching these promos, I get the impression the television Gods would love nothing more than to end Saturday night with a Hawkeye win. We may not be the underdogs according to Vegas, the line has us winning by 11.5 last time I checked, but I get the impression it's still us against the world this week and the world would like nothing more than to see Penn State put back in its place. This one’s not as big as Penn State-Michigan or Penn State-OSU nationally, but make no mistake, this one is as big as it gets if we're going to keep pace with the ‘Bama's and Clemson’s of college football. Handle our business on this stage and you better believe some eyebrows will be raised in our favor.
To be, or not to be, that is the burning question. Does our defense have what it takes to contain the always-powerful Hawkeye running game and make life miserable for their pin-point passer? Does our O-Line have the fire inside their belly to open holes for King ‘Quon and keep The Wizard upright against the rush. Do the Nittany Lions have what it takes to be a player in the playoff race? Can they overcome a striped-out stadium that’s against them; a prime-time audience eager to put them back in their place, and a squad of Hawkeyes that are trained to believe they can beat anyone on any given Saturday within the confines of their own home turf? Put your cupcakes and crumpets away Nittany Nation, this one has Big Ten meat and potatoes written all over it and playoff implications to boot. To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and this one’s the best we’ve played so far. Penn State answers all those questions and more come Saturday night when the dust settles. To be, is the answer, as the Nittany Lions roll 31-10.