Penn State coming off of 62-24 victory in West Lafayette against Purdue in which the offense totaled 511 yards of offense. Iowa is coming off a bye week for this game and has an extra week of preparation.
The Hawkeyes are averaging 28 points per game and are very balanced rushing for 167 yards on the ground and passing for 180 yards through the air this season.
Quarterback C.J Beathard has played well within the system, however, has stroggled to find consistency in the passing offense with the loss of big play wide receiver Tevaun Smith (32 receptions, 563 yards 3 TD’s) from a year ago. Beathard has completed 58% of his passes for 1, 380 yards with 11 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on the season.
Iowa needs to run the football to work off of play action with Beathard and the offensive line will need to step up on the road in Happy Valley. Iowa has struggled in third down situations this season and is converting only 37% of their third down attempts. The lack of offensive consistency has put pressure on the offensive line and has made the unit one dimensional in key situations. The offensive line has allowed 20 sacks through the first eight games and will need a better output on the road in Penn State this Saturday.
Running back LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley give the Hawkeyes a solid one-two punch in the running game and look for both players to be utilized in this match-up this weekend. Wadley has rushed for 636 yards with one touchdown while Daniels has rushed for 624 yards on the ground with 6 touchdowns.
Wide receiver Riley McCarron leads the team with 30 receptions for 336 yards with 3 receiving touchdowns.
Defensively, Iowa has allowed 18 points per game and is giving up 153 rushing yards per game along with allowing 223 passing yards to opposing offenses.
The Hawkeyes are +7 in turnover margin and have recorded 19 sacks through the first eight games of the year. Iowa has been very good in forcing three and outs this season and has held opposing offenses to 34% on their third down attempts.
James Franklin has great momentum heading into this game with two solid victories over Ohio State and Purdue in Big 10 play. Penn State showed focus in the team’s road win in Purdue last week which was a positive sign for the team heading into this game.
The Nittany Lions are averaging 33 points per game and are rushing for 161 yards on the ground (highest in James Franklin era) along with passing for 230 yards through the air this season.
Quarterback Trace McSorley is completing 55% of his passes for 1,818 with 12 touchdowns and 3 interceptions and has looked like a confident signal quarterback over the last month of the season. Last week, he led an offense that erupted on the road after being tied at halftime 17-17.
Running back Saquon Barkley is the spark plug for the offense and leads the team with 888 yard averaging 6.0 yards per carry with 10 rushing touchdowns. Last week, Barkley torched Purdue for 207 yards on the ground with 2 scores. Barkely is a tough inside runner that has breakaway speed and is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the rock.
Wide receiver Chris Godwin is the main target for McSorley and leads the team with 30 receptions for 422 yards with 5 receiving touchdowns.
Defensively, Penn State is allowing 27 points per game and has been solid in pass coverage giving up 197 passing yards to opposing offenses.
Penn State has struggled in stopping the run and is allowing 183 yards on the ground. In order to win this game, Penn State must force C.J Beathard to beat them over the top. They cannot allow Wadley and Daniels to pound the football in the middle of their defense which will put the Iowa offense in third down and short situations.
Penn State has recorded 23 sacks in the first eight games and is +1 in turnover margin.
LISTEN TO THE FULL PREVIEW OF THIS GAME SATURDAY MORNING AT 10-12PM EST: