Iowa football

No. 10 Penn State holds off No. 17 Iowa

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No. 10 Penn State holds off No. 17 Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Noah Cain ran for a five-yard touchdown with 5:17 left and 10th-ranked Penn State held off No. 17 Iowa 17-12 on Saturday night, its first win over a ranked opponent this season.

Cain finished with 102 yards for the Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten), who extended their winning streak over the Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-2) to six games.

A matchup between two of the nation's top defenses turned when Iowa's Nate Stanley threw an interception near midfield with 9:22 remaining. Penn State drove 35 yards on a gassed Iowa defense, and the last of three straight runs by Cain made it 17-6.

Iowa pulled within 17-12 when Stanley found Brandon Smith for a 33-yard TD pass with 2:31 to go. The Hawkeyes' two-point try failed though, and Cain converted a crucial third down that ensured that Iowa never saw the ball again.

Up 7-6 late in the third quarter, Penn State recovered a fumble at Iowa's 16 and Sean Clifford connected on an apparent touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth that was overturned on review. Iowa then held the Nittany Lions at the 1-foot line, and two straight holding calls forced them to settle for a 33-yard field goal.

KJ Hamler caught seven passes, including a 22-yarder for a TD, for Penn State.

Stanley threw for 286 yards, but the Hawkeyes ran for just 70 yards on 30 attempts.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: The Nittany Lions survived their toughest road challenge outside of a trip to Ohio State on Nov. 23. Penn State was on the road against a talented team with a jacked-up crowd, and yet the Nittany Lions were the ones making the plays that made the difference.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes nearly went back-to-back games without a touchdown. Granted, Michigan and Penn State are really good on defense. But Iowa can't continue to lean on its own defense to keep it in games. At 1-2 in the league and with Wisconsin looking like one of the best teams in America, the Big Ten West doesn't look so winnable anymore.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Penn State might move up a few spots. Iowa might struggle to hang onto its spot in the Top 25 after back-to-back losses.

UP NEXT

Penn State hosts Michigan on Oct. 19.

Iowa hosts Purdue next Saturday.

No. 17 Penn State escapes No. 18 Iowa with late stands

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No. 17 Penn State escapes No. 18 Iowa with late stands

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Trace McSorley visited the injury tent. Not much in there, he said. Just a table for him to sit on while his right knee was being checked out in the second quarter of Penn State's game against Iowa.

"It's kind of cramped," McSorley said.

The senior quarterback, barely 6-feet tall and 200 pounds but able to carry Penn State's offense, has started 35 straight games and only has two more left at Beaver Stadium. He was not about to sit out the second half of this one.

McSorley returned after giving Penn State a scare, and the 17th-ranked Nittany Lions made two late defensive stands to escape No. 18 Iowa 30-24 on Saturday, avoiding a third straight home loss.

Nittany Lions safety Nick Scott intercepted a pass at the 2 with 3:18 left in the fourth quarter to thwart one Hawkeyes drive and Penn State (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) needed one more stop after that. Iowa (6-2, 3-2) drove to the Nittany Lions 44 in the final minute.

On fourth-and-10 with 7 seconds remaining, Penn State's pass rush swarmed Nate Stanley, who flipped backward to offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs. The 300-pounder rumbled 15 yards before being dragged down with no time left.

It was a fitting end to what Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz called "kind of an unusual game," with little sustained offense on a chilly and rainy day. Iowa had two safeties and a touchdown pass by punter Colten Rastetter to defensive tackle Sam Brincks on a faked field goal in the first half, and a pick-six in the second half.

Penn State played three series in the second quarter without McSorley.

"Gutsy win," Penn State coach James Franklin said.

McSorley was sandwiched by two Hawkeyes as he tried to scramble and stayed down, grabbing his right leg. The Beaver Stadium crowd fell silent as athletic trainers attended to him. McSorley got up with assistance and limped off.

Tommy Stevens played the next two series at quarterback for Penn State, scoring on a 3-yard run. He also led a short drive late in the first half to set up Jake Pinegar's career-best 45-yard field goal to make it 17-all. The freshman kicker from Iowa added a 49-yarder in the third quarter and 44-yarder in the fourth.

McSorley went back in for one series in the first half and Penn State went three-and-out.

On the sideline, he got encouragement from his sister and his father. He tried to stay loose, riding the stationary bike, running and cutting.

Franklin said he planned to start the second half with Stevens.

"Trace has earned the right to tell us if he thinks he can go," Franklin said. "I said: `Look I need to the whole package. I can't just have a pro-style quarterback. I got to have more than that.'"

Wearing a knee brace, McSorley delivered. On Penn State's first possession, he broke free for a 51-yard touchdown run to give the Nittany Lions their first lead, 24-17, with 12:10 left in the third quarter.

"I wasn't really going to know until I got out there," said McSorley, who finished with 167 yards passing and 63 rushing.

Trailing 30-24 in the fourth quarter, Iowa drove to first-and-goal at the 3 with 3:30 left. But Stanley threw a quick pass toward star tight end Noah Fant, who was not looking.

Ferentz said the Hawkeyes were discombobulated and should have called a timeout.

"I was just trying to change the play based on the look that they gave us," said Stanley, who was 18 for 49 for 205 yards and two interceptions. "I just tried to rush it with the play clock running down. I just should have taken the timeout."

Scott jumped up and made the interception.

"This one's going to hurt," Ferentz said.

Trace McSorley leads No. 4 Penn State's thrilling last-second comeback win in Iowa

Trace McSorley leads No. 4 Penn State's thrilling last-second comeback win in Iowa

BOX SCORE

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was happening like it had so often in the past.

A once-sluggish Iowa team had come to life in the fourth quarter at home under the lights, and another top-five opponent was set to go down.

Trace McSorley, Juwan Johnson and the resilient Nittany Lions flipped the script, scoring on the game's final play to survive a wild Big Ten opener.

Johnson caught a seven-yard TD pass as time expired and fourth-ranked Penn State rallied to stun Iowa 21-19 Saturday night.

Saquon Barkley had 211 yards rushing and 94 yards receiving for the Nittany Lions (4-0, 1-0), who outgained Iowa 579-273 but nearly blew a game that could've been crippling to their postseason hopes.

"Felt like with (Johnson) we had a height advantage and we could slip him through the middle of the field," Penn State coach James Franklin said of the winning play.

Akrum Wadley had a 70-yard TD reception midway through the fourth quarter and a 35-yard touchdown run with 1:42 left to put the Hawkeyes (3-1, 0-1) ahead 19-15.

Penn State went 80 yards on 12 plays and just 1:42 to close out the game, and McSorley found Johnson in a crowded end zone on fourth down.

McSorley finished with 284 yards passing on 48 tries.

Wadley had 80 yards rushing and 75 yards receiving and Nate Stanley threw for 191 yards and two TDs for Iowa.

"It's a tough loss for all of us," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "You can see first-hand why they were the Big Ten champs last year."

The takeaway
Penn State: Michigan came into Iowa City in a similar spot a year ago and lost 14-13, so the Nittany Lions should be happy they avoided a loss that would've erased their margin of error as far as the playoffs were concerned. Barkley was unstoppable and Penn State's defense was brilliant. But the Nittany Lions didn't do a ton in the passing game until the final drive — when McSorley's final pass was right on the money.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes' defense, led by preseason All-American linebacker Josey Jewell, played its heart out. Wadley then put Iowa in position to make a major statement nationally, but the Nittany Lions simply made one more play than they did. "This game sucks. But you've got to move on," Jewell said.

Poll implications
Third-ranked Oklahoma struggled with a winless Baylor on the road, and Iowa is clearly better than the Bears. But it's unclear if Penn State did enough to leapfrog the Sooners — who have a win over Ohio State.

Saquon's brilliance
Penn State faced a 3rd-down-and-6 up just 15-13 midway through the fourth quarter. McSorley threw a swing pass to Barkley, who was pinned to the sideline. But Barkley charged up the field, leapt over a Hawkeyes defender and got the first down -- keeping alive a drive that burned the clock. "The big difference in the game was that running back. He's a phenomenal player," Ferentz said. Barkley also caught 12 passes.

The numbers
Penn State ran 99 plays. Iowa had just 45. ...Stanley has thrown for 12 touchdowns against just one interception in his first four starts. ...Johnson finished with 92 yards on seven catches. ...Penn State gained 29 first downs, while Iowa had just 11.

He said it
"I cannot imagine there is a better player in all of college football. The guy is special," Franklin said of Barkley.

Up next
Penn State hosts Indiana on Saturday.

Iowa plays at Michigan State next weekend.