It wasn’t meant to be. Then, it was. Fourth-ranked Penn State defeated Iowa 21-19 when Nittany Lions QB Trace McSorley hit WR Juwan Johnson with a seven-yard TD pass as time expired on Saturday night. Head coach James Franklin’s squad dominated several facets of the game but could never take control in a game that seemed destined to fall to the Hawkeyes’ curse.
It was just last season that a third-ranked Michigan traveled to Iowa City and lost 14-13. It appeared as if Penn State would crush the Hawkeyes as they outgained their opponent 219-54 in the first half, but the Nittany Lions trailed after two quarters, 7-5. For the game, Penn State totaled 579 yards to Iowa’s 273 and ran 99 offensive plays to the Hawkeyes’ 45. Still, Iowa RB Akrum Wadley’s two fourth-quarter touchdowns gave the Hawkeyes a 19-15 with just 1:42 to play.
Wadley caught a 70-yard touchdown pass from QB Nate Stanley and then ran 35 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The Iowa Hawkeyes win was not meant to be though as McSorley and the Penn State offense calmly marched 80 yards in 12 plays for the game-winner as the game clock expired.
Penn State running back Saquon Barkley proved why he is worthy of Heisman Trophy hype. The 5-foot-11-inch, 230-pound junior rushed 28 times for 211 yards and was the team’s leading receiver with 12 catches for another 94. Barkley established a new Penn State school record for all-purpose yards with 358 against the Hawkeyes.
Barkley’s brilliance was epitomized on a 3rd down-and-6 midway through the fourth quarter. With Penn State leading 15-13 at the time, McSorley threw a pass in the flats to Barkley who was pinned to the sideline by an Iowa defender. Barkley continued upfield anyway, hurdled the Hawkeye defender, and got the first down.
McSorley finished the game completing 31-of-48 passes for 284 yards and the touchdown to Johnson. Johnson caught seven passed for 92 yards. Penn State faces Indiana at home this Saturday. Iowa, now 3-1, travels to Michigan State.
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