Football Game Watch #4
Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions
Saturday, September 23, 2017, 4:30 p.m. Pacific time.
Barney’s Beanery (2 locations: Santa Monica and Redondo Beach)
No ESPN College GameDay for Iowa City, there’s a more important game going on in New York’s Time Square apparently. Doesn’t matter! Iowa vs Penn State will be nationally televised as ABC’s Primetime matchup. This is not the game you can repeat a 41-14 thumping; all eyes are on the Hawks and anything less than an inspired effort won’t be a good reflection on the program. There’s plenty to be concerned about, Penn State is a legitimate college football playoff team. Barkley is complimented by Quarterback Trace McSorley, a QB who’s moxie energies the entire team; and can beat you with his arms or legs. Setting a Penn State record, McSorley threw 258 yards in one half; yes, just one half. Much like Wyoming QB Josh Allen, McSorley can damage a defense by extending plays long enough to give a receiver time to shake free. Once you start focusing on a QB scramble, it’s easy to forget Barkley is waiting in the wings and in open space; the turf monster might be your best chance of stopping him.
Defensively, Penn State is feeling pretty good after shutting out Georgia State 56-0. The defensive ends are flying off the edges and there’s depth to keep guys fresh throughout the game. No one including the Nittany Lions really know how good they are and the Hawkeyes will be their toughest challenge and Kinnick Stadium can’t be underestimated.
Did Iowa somewhat struggle with North Texas? Absolutely, and the officiating had a lot to do with the inconsistent play from both teams really. Tailgate conversations centered around one thing, getting our backups reps in the second half would be ideal. Careful what you ask for, as we got just that; with injuries to Akrum Wadley, James Butler, Noah Fant and Matt VandeBerg, we learned a lot about our depth at running back. Wadley’s injury appears to be minimal, unfortunately for Butler; he’ll miss several weeks due to an elbow injury. Freshman Ivory Kelly-Martin stole the second half with his burst through the holes and gritty performance. Hopefully Wadley’s ankles are ready to go, as Iowa will need every bit of him a full go. Losing Butler means a loss of valuable experience, but the reps the young backs received will pay off greatly in due time.
QB Nate Stanley is proving to be just as worthy as Wadley for team MVP. That might sound crazy to many, as without a doubt; the team’s success ultimately rides on Wadley’s playmaking ability, but give Stanley a lot of credit for developing game to game. We’ve seen several potential touchdowns become incomplete passes, but Stanley put up a bomb on North Texas right on the money; and credit the Mean Green for making an incredible play to break it up. Stanley is growing and he’s leading his offense in ways that Iowa hasn’t been able to do very often. The defense is struggling, that would doom plenty of season’s in the past; but instead, Stanley picks up the pieces and gets the team down the field for points. There’s nothing that could prepare Stanley for this Saturday. It’s the number 4 team in the nation, it’s a night game in Kinnick; how does he handle this kind of pressure? The answer will result in a W or an L.
The butt kicking in Happy Valley was the closest feeling I’ve had to the Rose Bowl, and I didn’t play in it. The players did and there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll prepare for this game with a demeanor to unleash all of their past demons. Get the field ready, I feel a storming coming on. Go Hawks!
Check out the fun and excitement at this year’s game watches. Wear your Hawkeye gear to get 40% off food and drinks during the game.
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