Time has barely expired on the Indiana matchup and already my pulse is quickening for this weekend. Iowa, Iowa, Iowa.
We hold a special grudge against Iowa in our house. On the night of our engagement in 2009, we went out to celebrate only to find ourselves glued to the restaurant’s TV watching Penn State lose to Iowa.
Meeting Iowa is almost always dicey and this year even more so. If the scores are any indication, Iowa has won convincingly all season. Like us, Iowa is undefeated and ranked in the top four. There’s so much at stake.
A look at our previous opponents is hardly convincing. Auburn winning in Baton Rouge for the first time in twenty-two years bolsters our win against the Tigers. While Wisconsin losing to Michigan casts an even longer shadow on the Badger’s early season ranking. (Not to mention making our date with the Wolverines even more formidable.)
Checking our performance against Indiana gives me some hope. Our impressive defense orchestrated a shutout that boasted two sacks, two interceptions, and a stop on fourth-and-goal. Keyvonne Lee rushed for 74 yards on eight carries, including a season high of 44 yards, to show improvement in the running game. Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson connected for two touchdowns, bringing their total to eighteen and setting the school record. On special teams, Brandon Smith blocked a field goal and Jordan Stout kicked a 50 yarder through the uprights. We’ll need all these weapons and more if we hope to top Iowa.
Penn State leads the series 17-13, but lost at home last year. Our defense is second in the nation in the red zone. Iowa’s forced seven takeaways just last week. I must nervously admit that I think this could go either way.
We head into Kinnick Stadium as a highly ranked underdog. The time to prepare is up; let the uphill battle begin. Can the Nittany lions harness that underdog spirit and rise above the Hawkeyes? Cross your fingers, wear your lucky shirt, and believe! Fight on state and win!