April 26, 2018

The Big Ten Blog

26 September 2017, 12:30 | Donald Newman

Sizing up Big Ten football as we (kinda) launch into conference season

Penn State head coach James Franklin right shakes hands with stadium volunteers as the team arrives to take on Georgia State in an NCAA college football game in State College Pa. Saturday Sept. 16 2017

John Cappelletti won the Heisman Trophy for Penn State in 1973.

Fourth-ranked Penn State begins defense of the Big Ten football championship it won a year ago with a night game at Iowa, which hopes to recapture the magic it had in upsetting second-rated MI under the lights at Kinnick Stadium last season. The Hawkeye offense finally got rolling as Wadley turned a short pass into a highlight reel 70-yard touchdown, then galloped 35 yards for a touchdown on the next series to give the Hawkeyes 19-15 lead with 1:42 to go.

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley is healthy and ready to go against the Nittany Lions. He connected on every pass he attempted in the first half, tossed just three incompletions on the night, threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns and averaged - averaged - 16.8 yards per attempt.

Beginning previous year, however, the Big Ten added a ninth conference game, which prompted the league to start its season a week earlier.

Before Trace McSorley found Juwan Johnson for a crowd-silencing, walk-off score, the quarterback had to find his mojo. He caught 12 passes for 94 yards and a touchdown.

The Gators extended their winning streak over the Wildcats to 31 games, the nation's longest streak in FBS, and took early control of the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division.

But McSorley was at his best on Penn State's final drive.

That's when McSorley, Barkley and the rest of the Penn State offense marched 80 yards in 1:42 for the victor, a walk-off touchdown that silenced the 66,000 strong in Iowa City.

Simone Lee had 15 kills and 13 digs to lead the Nittany Lions.

Iowa has a 10-4 record all-time under the lights at Kinnick Stadium, including wins in the four games it has hosted at night in the past two seasons.

As for the quarterback, "McSorley's just special". PSU pulled back ahead in the second half, before the teams traded late leads.

Toward the end of the third period, he was sacked by A.J. Epenesa and fumbled on the Iowa 45.

Kicker Miguel Recinos had what proved to be a critical 36-yard field goal try blocked on the fourth snap of the fourth quarter and punter Colten Rastetter dealt with good and bad.

Emotional after the game, Wadley said the first half was frustrating.

Allen said the Penn State offense is going to be hard to stop.

With his effort against the Hawkeyes, Barkley became the seventh player in Penn State history to have 3,000 career rushing yards.

More than a smattering of boos could be heard at Kinnick Stadium as the swarming Nittany Lions defense was in total command.

Penn State's offense had plenty of chances to open a lead thanks to tremendous field position throughout the first half, but McSorley and Barkley could not take advantage. The defense in West Lafayette showed it, too, has some teeth to match the fun-filled scoring attack by frequently getting pressure on the Wolverines' quarterbacks on Saturday.

Iowa is certainly a very good football team.

Then they went out and and racked up 579 total yards of offense, killed themselves with a pair of costly turnovers and committed eight penalties for 90 yards. After the media timeout, Holman and Foecke tallied back-to-back kills to make it 17-12 and force a Penn State timeout.

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