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Iowa 24, Penn State 3: The Pwnage Must Continue

(Ed. Note: I write this having not yet looked at any of the zillion comments made by you talkative lot; I also haven't seen much of the game on TV, although I did get to watch the destruction in person from the North end zone. So that was nice.)

In the build-up to this game, BHGP Grand Poobah Jacobi speculated that this came could be pretty reminiscent of the 2003 encounter, with a clearly superior Iowa team grinding out a solid, no frills win over an overmatched/rebuilding Penn State team; based on the events of last night, that theory seems pretty damn prescient. The yardage totals wound up fairly similar (301 for PSU, 349 for Iowa), but the vast disparity on the scoreboard was a better reflection of the difference between the two teams.

Some thoughts:

* Mea culpa. I expressed extreme skepticism about the ability of Iowa fans to pull off the black-and-gold color coordination in the build-up to this week, so it's only fair that I admit that I was dead wrong on that front. Iowa fans absolutely pulled it off (and I did my part by wearing black in Section 135) and it looked fantastic from the stands (and on TV too, from what I've heard). So nice job, Iowa fans.

* The defensive line was beastly. It's not as if the defensive line had been bad in the weeks prior to this game, but by the admittedly high standards (ours, the media's, and their own) of this unit, they hadn't been the unit of impregnable, quarterback-mauling dreadnoughts that we'd hoped to see week in and week out. They gave up a pair of decent drives to Penn State on either side of halftime, one ending in a field goal (aided by a perhaps questionable roughing the passer penalty that negated an interception) and one ending with a rousing goalline stand by the Iowa defensive line, highlighted by two straight stonewalls from the Iowa 1-yard line. Adrian Clayborn looked like the Clayborn of old, an unblockable, rampaging heat-seeking missile of a defender blowing up tackles, running backs, quarterbacks -- anyone that got in his way. But all the defensive linemen had standout plays and, by and large, this looked like the defensive line we hoped to see coming into the year.

* We have a pretty damn good passing game... when we need it. Our favorite Heismanzi candidate didn't have one of his sharpest efforts last night (threw an interception, seemed to not see a few open receivers, and threw a few passes that were off-line), but he was still pretty good: 16/22, 227 yards, 2 TD (1 rushing). Credit, too, to the offensive line, which gave him all night to work with through most of the game. The offense basically went into hibernation for the second half of last night's ballgame, but if the coaches want to pound the ball into 8- and 9-man defensive fronts, there's not a whole lot Stanzi can do about that. It was clear that with the defense playing so well and Iowa's starting field position so miserable, Ferentz had no intention of doing anything even the slightest bit risky that might give Penn State quality field position of their own. It wasn't very exciting to watch, but it was effective -- and if you were surprised, you clearly haven't been watching Ferentz-led Iowa teams for very long. Stanzi avoided the glaring gaffes that could have let Penn State into the game and managed things efficiently.

* Bolden looks promising, but JoePa quit on that game. Credit where it's due: despite being harried and pounded on for pretty much the entire game (and dealing with a difficult night-game atmosphere in Kinnick; it got LOUD on multiple occasions), Robert Bolden seemed to keep his composure well and he did a nice job of leading the Penn State offense down the field on those two drives on either side of halftime. The coaches made things easier on him by using a lot of quick roll-outs and short passes, but he looked pretty calm in executing that gameplan. Things got more ragged in the fourth quarter and he threw a lot more balls that could have (and should have) been intercepted (including the one that was, by Shaun Prater late in the fourth quarter), but freshmen quarterbacks are going to take their lumps; Bolden seems like he could be a pretty good quarterback for PSU in the not-too-distant future.

On the other hand, what the fuck was Joe Paterno thinking by punting the ball from midfield with a manageable fourth down (4th-and-6) with 4:36 remaining, down two touchdowns? That decision was confounding at the time and even less sensible now. If JoePa really thought his team had a better shot of winning the game by punting the ball and using his defense and timeouts to get the ball back with (a) less than four minutes to go, (b) no timeouts, (c) worse field position (in all likelihood), and (d) still a two-touchdown deficit... well, he should probably retire, because senility has undeniably set in. The only sensible (if distasteful) explanation is that he threw in the towel on the game at that point, which is just... sad.