When you think of old-school college football, you think of Alabama, Penn State, and a few others. Classic, understated uniforms and a “Try and stop us from running the football mentality.” James Franklin’s 2020 Penn State squad is a bit of a throwback. Penn State’s offense is similar to Minnesota’s in that they run most everything out of the shotgun. Penn State runs more with their quarterback than the Gophers; PSU QB’s are averaging 19.5 rushing attempts per game this season. Sean Clifford started vs Nebraska last week. He threw a pick and Nebby also had a strip-sack scoop-and-score and the Big Red Dog was sent to the doghouse for the day.
Enter Will Levis. Levis (6’3”, 222#) is a bigger version of Clifford (6’2”, 217#). Sean Clifford is a more accomplished passer than Levis, and he has a victory against the Hawks under his belt, but Levis is a battering ram playing quarterback. Penn State runs a read play a great deal where the QB will hand the ball to the running back, read the defense, and then pull the ball back out for a keeper. Levis was much more methodical about this than Clifford. The Nittany Lions will also throw the ball in this run-pass option, but most of the time Levis will run it. He looks to make contact as much as he looks to avoid contact. Levis stood over a Nebby defender for a second after he ran him over last week.
Hawks’ Run Defense
Iowa’s run defense has been stout this season, giving up 112.8 yards a game (2.8 avg). This puts the Hawks’ defense ranked #23 in the country against the run. Penn State has been averaging 158.3 yards on the ground. If the Hawkeye defense can limit Penn State’s rushing game, the Hawks can leave Happy Valley, well, happy.
Keith Jackson Would Love This Game
You may have seen Coach James Franklin’s “Iowa, Iowa, Iowa, Iowa” tweet the other day. He’s a type-A personality that goes to AAA when it comes to the Black and Gold. He loves playing the Hawks. Kirk Ferentz played high school football in Pittsburgh and coached at the University of Pittsburgh. He loves going out there. It’s going to be an old-school football game. To quote the grandaddy of all football broadcasters Keith Jackson, there are going to be some “hosses”, some “Whoa, Nellie’s” and it’s sure to be a “slobber knocker”. Strap on those hats, boys. Let’s do some hitting! Go Hawks!