Penn State may be a week removed from a thrilling win against no. 2 Ohio State — but another big test awaits the No. 1 Nittany Lions.
Penn State is set to host No. 7 Iowa inside the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday. It will be the sixth time PSU has faced a top-25 team this season and the fourth time it’s battled a top-10 squad.
However, this isn’t Dan Gable’s Hawkeyes teams of the past. Yes, they still have talent but it isn’t like what Iowa is used to. Here is this week’s bout-by-bout breakdown:
125 pounds: PSU’s Carson Kuhn (0-1) or Devin Schnupp (1-14) vs. No. 3 Spencer Lee (12-1)
Never miss a local story.
Cobler: Nittany Lions fans got to see the debut of Kuhn last week — and he didn’t disappoint. Kuhn proved he could hang with the best of them and recorded three takedowns on Ohio State’s Nathan Tomasello. Kuhn even threw a headlock on Tomasello, breaking a Blaise Alexander sign on the scorers’ table in a 21-12 loss. Lee took on Tomasello at the end of January and topped him 3-2 with a very strong ride. Prediction: Lee by major decision
Muthler: In his first Pennsylvania homecoming, against the team many thought he’d be committing to, Lee will be ready to put on a show. The true freshman hasn’t skipped a beat since his redshirt was lifted, filing away wins over ranked opponents left and right. If Kuhn comes out as hot as he did against Tomasello, he’ll likely get caught and flipped on his back for a quick pin. Prediction: Lee by fall
133 pounds: PSU’s Corey Keener (12-6) vs. Paul Glynn (7-8)
Cobler: Keener wrestled probably one of his better matches last week against Ohio State’s Luke Pletcher. Many predicted Keener would give up bonus points to the Buckeye but, in the end, it was only a decision. This week, I look for Keener to get the bonus points. Glynn has just two dual wins, and both have come in Big Ten competition but against inferior opponents. Prediction: Keener by major decision
Muthler: This match is one that could easily go either way but is a must-win for Keener to keep his NCAA hopes alive. Keener has a better record, but Glynn just got his first win over a ranked opponent in Northwestern’s No. 20 Colin Valdiviez. However, I’ll give Keener the home-crowd advantage. Prediction: Keener by decision
141 pounds: PSU’s No. 8 Nick Lee (20-4) vs. Vince Turk (8-5) or Carter Happel (11-7)
Cobler: Lee hasn’t just narrowly picked up 20 wins, he’s absolutely dominated every time he’s come away with the victory due to his relentless attack. One thing that has been a downfall for the true freshman is his inability to get out from the bottom position quickly. It showed last week in a 7-6 loss with Joey McKenna holding 1:32 in riding time for the winning point. Look for Lee to get back on the winning track in a big way. Prediction: Lee by technical fall
Muthler: Happel is riding high right now after just pinning No. 14 Tommy Thorn, but Lee will put a stop to that. In the battle between freshmen, I think Lee will overwhelm Happel with his relentless offense. Lee will take a lot more shots than Happel, and they’ll translate into a bunch of takedowns. Happel won’t be able to keep up with Lee’s offense. Prediction: Lee by major decision
149 pounds: PSU’s No. 1 Zain Retherford (21-0) vs. No. 2 Brandon Sorensen (18-0)
Cobler: In what will be considered the highlight bout of the night, Retherford-Sorensen meet in a rematch of the 2016 NCAA and Big Ten finals. Retherford holds a perfect 4-0 mark against Sorensen and has collected bonus points in half of those matchups — both in the NCAA championships. These two have only squared off once in a dual. It was last year with Retherford beating Sorensen in ultimate tie breaker No. 2, 9-8. Prediction: Retherford by major decision
Muthler: Retherford’s 83-match winning streak will face its toughest test this season when the two-time national champ faces No. 2 Sorensen. In the past three years, Sorensen has come closer than any other wrestler to beating Retherford when he pushed the Nittany Lion into overtime last year at Carver Hawkeye. But Retherford repaid that favor with a pin at NCAAs. With the way Sorensen has been wrestling this season, racking up falls and tech falls, I think it’ll be another close one, but ultimately, Retherford will come out on top. Prediction: Retherford by decision
157 pounds: PSU’s Bo Pipher (7-10) or Luke Gardner (6-4) vs. No. 2 Michael Kemerer (18-0)
Cobler: Had Jason Nolf not have been injured, this bout would have been right up there with Retherford-Sorensen. Instead, it will just be Kemerer scoring takedown after takedown on whoever the Nittany Lions throw out there. Prediction: Kemerer by technical fall
Muthler: This will be the third time this season Pipher has stepped up to wrestle for an injured teammate, and each time has been against a ranked opponent. And if throwing him out in front of 9,896 fans at PPL Arena and possibly the rowdiest crowd of all time at Rec Hall last week, the freshman now gets the chance to wrestle the No. 2 wrestler in the country at 157 pounds in front of 16,000. The freshman has been able to avoid being put on his back so far, but I think Kemerer will be too much for him. The Hawkeye will get his eighth pin of the season. Prediction: Kemerer by fall
165 pounds: PSU’s No. 1 Vincenzo Joseph (16-0) vs. No. 7 Alex Marinelli (12-0)
Cobler: Joseph has taken on five ranked opponents already this year — collecting bonus points in three of those wins. He is wrestling with such swagger and calmness right now that I don’t see him losing anytime soon. Prediction: Joseph by decision
Muthler: Marinelli has looked sharp his redshirt freshman year and has a bright future in college wrestling. However, I don’t think he has what it takes — yet — to knock off the No. 1 Joseph, who seems to be looking better with each match. Marinelli will ultimately have trouble getting to Joseph’s hips and will struggle to take him down. Prediction: Joseph by decision
174 pounds: PSU’s No. 2 Mark Hall (22-0) vs. Joey Gunther (12-3) or Kaleb Young (9-7)
Cobler: Hall has shown all season long that his run in the NCAA championships was no fluke last year in St. Louis. He was dominant in last week’s 6-4 win over Bo Jordan. Hall even showed off his patented duck under to score the winning points. Just like at 157 pounds but in the Nittany Lions’ favor, Hall will score bonus on whoever goes out there with an Iowa singlet on. If I had to guess who that might be, I’d think Hawkeyes’ coach Tom Brands might do the right thing and stick Young, who went to Punxsutawney High School, out there. Prediction: Hall by fall
Muthler: I’m calling back-to-back pins here for Penn State, starting with Hall. Iowa will be hoping to keep bonus points to a minimum here, but I don’t think it’ll do any good against a very confident Hall. Prediction: Hall by fall
184 pounds: PSU’s No. 1 Bo Nickal (21-0) vs. Mitch Bowman (10-7)
Cobler: What more can you say about Nickal? The guy just wrestles every second. Even though it looks like he is going to give up a takedown, he comes out on the other end with the score. Do you remember what happened the last time Nickal took on a Hawkeye? He pinned then-No. 5 Sammy Brooks with a spladle in 38 seconds. Prediction: Nickal by fall
Muthler: Will we see another spladle this year like we did at Iowa City last year? I’m not sure about that, but I have a feeling we’ll see some sort of crazy move out of Nickal on Saturday. I think he takes him to his back, and I think he does it quick. Prediction: Nickal by fall
197 pounds: PSU’s No. 8 Anthony Cassar (16-2) or Shakur Rasheed (15-2) vs. No. 7 Cash Wilcke (15-3)
Cobler: Cassar shocked the wrestling world by upsetting No. 1 Kollin Moore with two solid takedowns. He also showed off a strong ride to amass 1:16 in riding time. The question remains though, is Cassar going to get the nod with such a big win or will Rasheed trot out there? Cael Sanderson and Co. have been alternating the duals with the two of them. I believe Cassar goes this week, but I wonder if he will show any signs of a hangover from the big victory. Prediction: Cassar by decision
Muthler: As the Nittany Lion coaching staff still wrestles with whom to take to the postseason, Saturday’s match will offer another opportunity for either Cassar or Rasheed to prove himself against a solid ranked opponent. This match will be key when it comes to tournament seedings. Regardless of whom Penn State sends out, I think Wilcke will have a hard time keeping up with their pace. Prediction: Cassar/Rasheed by decision
285 pounds: PSU’s No. 6 Nick Nevills (20-4) vs. No. 3 Sam Stoll (15-1)
Cobler: Nevills may have wrestled his best match of the year last week. Yes, he lost 15-10 to the reigning Olympic champion, but he was able to score the first takedown of the bout and looked much better than the major decision loss he suffered last year. So, what better way to follow that up than a match with a guy like Stoll. Stoll’s lone loss has come to Michigan’s Adam Coon, who dispatched Nevills 8-0 at the beginning of January. Prediction: Nevills by decision
Muthler: I think Nevills and Stoll match up really well, and this is going to be a phenomenal battle. With two big guys duking it out, I think whoever gets the first takedown wins this one. I think Stoll will have trouble scoring on Nevills, who’s really improved his defense. With the home-crowd advantage, I’m giving it to Nevills. Prediction: Nevills by decision
Cobler: Penn State 35, Iowa 9
I saw earlier this week a website called Wrestlestat.com did a simulation of the match. The prediction was Penn State 30-9. I agreed with the simulation on the lone victories the Hawkeyes are to get, which are at 125 and 157 pounds. It’s just that, while the simulation gave Lee the tech. fall and Kemerer the major decision, I had those results flip-flopped. Also, I have Hall and Nickal getting pins instead of technical falls like the simulation. My other extra points came from Keener and Lee. Like I said, this isn’t the usual Iowa team the college wrestling scene is used to.
Muthler: Penn State 31, Iowa 12
Even though the final score shows a Penn State landslide, that shouldn’t take away from the caliber of wrestlers that Iowa will bringing to the BJC. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, many of their best wrestlers will be pitted against Penn State’s top grapplers. There are a few matches I predicted for the Nittany Lions that could just as well go to the Hawkeyes — like 197 and heavyweight — but I think, overall, it will be a good outing for Penn State.