At one time, these two universities were the furthest geographically apart schools in the Big Ten. Now, it is becoming one of the best, and most surprising, rivalries in the conference.
Penn State is off to their third 5-0 start under head coach James Franklin, with wins over ranked opponents in Wisconsin and Auburn. Senior quarterback Sean Clifford has led a Penn State offense that is racking up 286 yards per game through the air. Senior receiver Jahan Dotson is a big reason for that passing game success as he is one of the most dynamic playmakers in college football. Defensively, the Nittany Lions are one of the best in the country. They are third in the nation allowing just 12 points per game, largely due to their ability to stop their opponents in the red zone. Penn State has held opponents without a score on 7-of-15 trips inside their 20-yard line, which ranks second in the nation.
Dating back to last season, Iowa has won 11 straight games and are up to No. 3 in both the AP and Coaches’ Polls. Junior quarterback Spencer Petras has been at the helm for all wins and thrown 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions during the streak. Junior running back Tyler Goodson is a threat on the ground and through the air, leading the team with 430 rushing yards and ranking second among Hawkeye’s receivers with 146 receiving yards. But the heart of the Iowa team is their defense, which leads the country with 12 interceptions and ranks second nationally, allowing 11.6 points per game.
When the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes met under the lights in 2017, Penn State scored on the game’s final play to win, 21-19. This top-five matchup is setting up to be a similar defensive battle.