From the time Penn State gathered on the visitors’ sideline before last year’s game at Iowa until the final gun sounded, its players felt their ears ring from constant heckling by the home crowd.
The Iowa fans had plenty to taunt the Lions players with as the Hawkeyes’ 24-3 victory improving their record against the Nittany Lions to 8-1 in their last nine meetings.
“They were saying things like, ‘Raise your hand if you ever beat Iowa,'” sophomore middle linebacker Glenn Carson recalled Tuesday. “That was the one thing that really stood out in my mind, why this game is so important. But you know what? Iowa’s a wrestling school, and Penn State’s a football school, so we’ve got to take it to them.”
Iowa week is barely under way in Happy Valley, and already the Hawkeyes have bulletin-board material. That can’t be good for the Lions (4-1 overall, 1-0 Big Ten), who have lost three straight to the Hawkeyes (3-1, 0-0).
Carson, a three-time New Jersey state wrestling finalist, tried to backpedal later in his interview with reporters, saying he was “joking around” because he remembered Iowa being a great wrestling school under legendary coach Dan Gable.
He said the fans’ insults “didn’t get under my skin” but that it was “something that I remember, and that kind of gives us a little incentive to beat these guys.”
If Penn State are to have any chance of beating Iowa this weekend they need to improve their dreadful showing on offense in last week’s 16-10 win over Indiana. While the Lions rolled up 464 total yards against Indiana, they scored only one touchdown and turned the ball over twice in the red zone.
Similar to the Indiana performance, the Lions had red-zone problems in last year’s game at Iowa. Clock-management issues that involved the coaches and then-freshman quarterback Rob Bolden resulted in just one field goal from two drives inside the Hawkeye 5.
As is the weekly routine, Paterno was peppered with questions about his quarterbacks. Even though McGloin’s numbers (625 yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions) are better than those of Bolden (455 yards, one touchdown, four interceptions), Paterno said:
“I don’t see much of a difference in the way we perform under either kid. That makes me very, very reluctant (to make the choice) because they both work so hard. They’re good kids, good students, good citizens, and the whole bit. For me to go out there and say, ‘Hey, you’re better than the other guy’ … right now I honestly can’t tell you one’s better than the other.”
The Lions need both better quarterbacking and play-calling inside the red zone this weekend if they are to reverse this three game losing streak against Iowa.