The Iowa football team begins Big Ten Conference play this weekend against Penn State, and the game will take place at Beaver Stadium in University Park, Pennsylvania.
A crowd of more than 106,000 fans are expected to see the game in person, and the Hawkeyes will try to once again send the Nittany Lion fans home unhappy.
The Hawkeyes have had the clear edge in the series the past 10 meetings. Will Iowa continue its dominance or will Joe Paterno finally loosen the apparent grip Kirk Ferentz has on this series?
Iowa vs. Penn State
Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. and the game will be seen on ABC/ESPN
About the Hawkeyes
Iowa heads into this game with a record of 3-1. The Hawkeyes did not play last week as Big Ten Conference play started around the league. The Iowa offense is led by quarterback James Vandenberg, running back Marcus Coker and wide receiver Marvin McNutt. The Hawkeye offensive line also is experienced and talented up front. The defense replaced a lot of players lost to graduation and the NFL last season. While young and inexperienced, the unit has improved its play over the last few weeks. Sophomores James Morris and Christian Kirksey are the leading tacklers, while junior Micah Hyde has a team-high two intereptions.
About the Nittany Lions
Penn State is 4-1 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten Conference play so far in 2011. The Nittany Lions began Big Ten play last weekk with a road win against Indiana. The offense has a lot of work to do and a solid No. 1 QB still has not been established. The Nittany Lion offense does feature a better than good back in sophomore Silas Reed and a very good WR in 6-foot-5 senior Derek Moye. The defense lost all-World LB Michael Mauti to a season-ending torn ACL but still features leading tackler Gerald Hodges and Chaz Powell.
Iowa leads the all-times 12-11 and has won eight of the last nine meetings. During that stretch, the Hawkeyes also have won five of the last six at Beaver Stadium. Iowa upset Penn State and ruined its national championship hopes in 2008 with a 24-23 win. The Hawks won 21-10 in 2009 and took care of Penn State 24-3 last season at Kinnick Stadium.
Iowa Depth Chart
There were not a lot of significant changes to this week’s depth chart. The one glaring change came at LB where true freshman Quinton Alston is listed as the backup to MLB James Morris. Also, redshirt freshman Carl Davis is listed as Tom Nardo’s backup at DT, and Jonathan Gimm has moved back to No. 2 at FB.
A.J. Derby arrested, suspended for two games
Iowa backup quarterback A.J. Derby, a redshirt freshman, was arrested this weekend for public intoxication and fourth degree criminal mischief. According to the police report, the Iowa City native allegedly broke out a window on a bus. He later admitted to breaking the window and said that he would pay for the damages. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz issued a two-game suspension to Derby, which means that junior QB John Weinke is listed as the No. 2 QB on this week’s depth chart.
Hawkeye Huddle at University Park, Pennsylvania
Hawkeye fans traveling to State College, Pennsylvania for the Iowa-Penn State football game on Saturday, should make plans to attend the “Hawkeye Huddle” prior to kickoff. The Hawkeye Huddle is presented by the National I-Club and the UI Alumni Association, and is sponsored by Dubuque Auto Plaza, Lytham Luxury Homes, Iowa City Area Development Group, and Iowa Rings.
The Huddle will be held from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time (EST) at the Nittany Lion Inn, 200 West Park Avenue, State College, Pennsylvania. The Nittany Lion Inn is located within walking distance of Beaver Stadium, where kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST.
Admission to the Hawkeye Huddle is free and includes cash refreshments, snacks, door prizes, cheerleaders and Herky. Visit www.jointheiclub.com for additional information.
NFL Wide Receivers
Both Iowa and Penn State feature a wide receiver that is destined to be an NFL player when his college career ends. The Hawkeyes of course feature St. Louis native Marvin McNutt, while Penn State will try to get the ball as much as possible to its 6-foot-5 senior wideout Derek Moye.
In four games this season, McNutt has 25 catches, 413 yards and four scores. He is averaging 103.2 yards per game and can set a new Iowa career receiving TD mark with a touchdown catch this weekend.
Moye has played in five games this season and has 26 catches for 443 yards and three scores.
While these two targets will be the featured wideouts Saturday, the game may come down to the supporting cast. Iowa also features junior Keenan Davis and redshirt freshman Kevonte Martin-Manley, while the only other WR to have more than 10 catches for Penn State is junior Justin Brown. McNutt, Davis and Martin-Manley have combined to catch all 10 of James Vandenberg’s touchdown passes this season. Brown has 16 catches in 2011 but has no TDs.
Matt McGloin or Rob Bolden?
The stats of both Penn State quarterbacks would indicate that McGloin will get the nod this weekend, but Joe Paterno has not made an official decision yet.
McGloin is 44-for-76 through the air for 625 yards, four TDs and no interceptions. Bolden is 39-of-85 for 455 yards, one touchdown and four picks.
There is no question who Iowa’s QB will be Saturday. Vandenberg is 81-for-129 this season through the air has passed for 1,095 yards, which ranks him third in the Big Ten. He also has 10 TD passes and just one interception.
Silas Redd vs. Marcus Coker
The two featured RBs will have key roles in this game as both teams look to stop the run defensively. Coker is now 100 percent healthy for the Hawks after a slow start. He has 375 yards and four scores in four games this year and only Wisconsin’s Montee Ball and Nebraska’s Rex Burkhead average more yards per game for running backs in the Big Ten Conference. Redd has 422 yards in five games this season and has reached paydirt four times.
Legends and Leaders Divisions
This game is key for both squads. Penn State needs to win to keep pace with talented Wisconsin and upstart Illinois in the Leaders Division. Iowa obviously wants to get off to a strong start in Big Ten play. No team in the Legends Division has clearly played better than the other teams. The division is wide open and starting 1-0 and beating the teams you are supposed to beat is going to be key for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa is talented enough to start 4-0 in league play and take a 7-1 overall record into November. The Hawks also have slipped up in games they should win so we’ll see which Iowa team hits the field Saturday in front of 106,000 screaming fans.