Penn State

Penn State Football: Impressive Win Over Iowa, Newfound Hope for Season

What a game, what a day, what an atmosphere. 

A 3:30 game on a fall day with sunny mild weather creates bar none the best tailgating atmosphere in the country.

A student section that was in their seats at the beginning of the game and loud enough to make a difference in the game.

A running game that has found its tempo behind the blocking and tackling of an offensive line.

An offense that didn't quit, even though it still had troubles in the red zone.

A defensive performance that can be described in one word as superlative in creating the big plays that held a productive offense to only three points.

A crowd of 105,000 mostly hungry Nittany Lion fans that stayed until the very end.

Happy Valley at its very best! 

Indeed, college football's greatest show was truly a great show yesterday. 

The energy in the stands was astounding.

We beat the Hawkeyes, 13-3, our nemesis for far too long.

As I told our tailgating neighbor Ed after the game, "Now THAT  was a satisfying win!"

It was a tough win over a team that has become a fierce rival. 

Until yesterday, we had lost eight of the last nine games we played against them.

Way to go Penn State!

For a day or two, enjoy what it feels like to get that Hawkeye monkey off your back. 

We are a 5-1 team.  Forget who we have played.  The only loss was to Alabama, #2 in the country.  You've done good.

Nice job, guys!  Keep it going!  I don't care how you win as long as you keep winning!

The 1986 National Championship team, celebrating its 25th year, was on the field yesterday to remind us how a close win is still a win.

But right now there is a long season ahead of us, and the mostly friendly schedule that the Lions have experienced so far is about to become decidedly less friendly.

Do we have a scrappy enough team to win the rest of our games? 

Penn State's defense held Iowa to 3 points when they had averaged 38 points per game so far this season.  That's a very positive sign.

In fact, Penn State's defense has only allowed 63 points against them in the six games played, an average of 10.5 points per game.  If you take out the 27 points that Alabama scored, the defense is allowing only eight points per game on average in the other five games.

But I'm not sure the defense can do it alone.  The old adage is that the offense scores points, the defense wins games. 

Our defense is helping us to win games, but the offense still needs to score.  At least a LITTLE bit more, anyhow!  The offense needs to eliminate its red zone woes. 

Points!  We need points!  Desperately.

What about the special teams?  That was a great fake field goal for a first down by kicker Evan Lewis.  Anthony Fera made each of the field goals he was called on to make.  A great improvement over the start of the season, when field goals were tough to make.

But how many times yesterday did punter extraordinaire Anthony Fera punt the ball to within the zero-to-ten-yard line?  No Penn State special teams member was able to down it, allowing a touch-back to the twenty-yard line each time. 

We weren't able to pin Iowa close to their own end zone.  We were fortunate that our defense made sure that it didn't matter.

Purdue comes calling next week, a team that scored 47 points against Minnesota yesterday.  They can be a dangerous team, and had a very balanced and mistake-free offensive attack against the Gophers.   

Penn State has the home field advantage, which should help.  It's Homecoming, so the stands should be reasonably full and the crowd, coming off a high of beating Iowa should be pumped.   

There have been some very positive signs on the offense, especially with the running game,  an offensive line that is creating holes and protecting the quarterback, and wide receivers like Derek Moye that can make what appear to be impossible catches.

Still, the offense can't continue to make lots of yards and then turn over the ball when they are in a position to score, or only come up with three points when seven are needed.

After Purdue, it's off to Chicago.  Northwestern gave Penn State all it could handle last year, for JoePa's 400th win, and they can be especially tough to play at Ryan Field in Evanston. 

Yesterday, they were ahead 24-14 at halftime against Michigan.  Michigan shut them down in the second half and scored 28 points to win that game 42-24.  

Can Penn State's defense shut down the Wildcats BEFORE they run up the score? 

Or can Penn State be more productive in scoring?  Both need to happen.

And then there's Illinois...undefeated so far.  6-0 Illinois right now is looming larger than 3-3 Ohio State as a major threat...and right now equal to Wisconsin as Penn State's final challenge in a daunting November that I don't even want to discuss yet.  They meet us at Beaver Stadium.

But, one game at a time.  Time to get to work, fellows.

Right now Penn State is undefeated in the Big Ten with a 2-0 record. 

The division championship and the Big Ten Championship are both still alive and possible.  

The defensive performance yesterday that shut down Iowa has made a believer of me that this team can be very special. 

I'm hoping that both the offense and the special teams will step up to make the next few games a more balanced team effort.

With a little luck, and a few breaks here and there, perhaps this team will make this season one of Joe Paterno's finest seasons ever!

Now, wouldn't that be fun?

This article also appears at View from the Stands - Penn State Football, where you can also view a slide show of more photos from yesterday's game.