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Five Players to Know From Penn State

Dylan Burn of Hawkeye Insider gives you five Nittany Lions to know before Saturday night's game in Happy Valley.

Trace McSorely

McSorely took over for Christian Hackenberg who was drafted in this past years NFL Draft. Hackenberg was a pro style quarterback as opposed to McSorely who prefers to be on the move, but it seems as though James Franklin is having more success with McSorely at the helm than he did with Hackenberg. McSorely is mobile and doesn't have near the accuracy or the arm that Hackenberg possessed. The junior QB has struggled with accuracy so far this season. He's 123-223 which is right around 55%, he's thrown for 1,818 yards and 12 touchdowns to go along with just three interceptions. 

He was just 8-23 for 154 yards and a TD against the Ohio State Buckeyes, but ran the ball 19 times for 63 yards and a TD. So, he is a candidate to hurt you with his legs. Iowa is going to need to keep a contain on McSorely because he can and will get loose if there is an opening. Taking away Chris Godwin, Penn State's top receiver, could be another key to slowing down this Penn State team. Iowa already has Saquon Barkley to worry about when it comes to running the football, so containing McSorely will be a big key for the Hawkeyes on Saturday. 

Saquon Barkley

Barkley is the best running back in the Big Ten. He currently leads the league in rushing yards as he makes his way through his sophomore season in Happy Valley with 888 yards on 147 carries. Barkley has also found the end zone 11 times, 10 on the ground one through the air. He went for 207 yards on 18 carries and found the end zone twice on the ground. He also hauled in 3 passes for 70 yards, so he is becoming more of a threat in the passing game.

He's gone over 200 yards in two of Penn State's last three games and I am really looking forward to seeing how Iowa's run defense, which has been solid in recent weeks, performs against the league's most dynamic back. Barkley is coming off of some solid performances and Iowa is going to be fresh coming off of their bye week, so it's going to be entertaining to watch who wins this battle on Saturday night.

Chris Godwin

Godwin was voted second team all Big Ten last season by the leagues media and third by the coaches. He is coming off a great sophomore season in which he hauled in 69 passes for 1,101 yards, and five touchdowns. I believe his numbers are taking a hit without a true QB. His numbers appear to be down with McSorely under center as opposed to Hackenberg last season. Setting all that aside, he's still an excellent receiver. He's caught 30 passes for 422 yards and five touchdowns this season with his best game coming against Temple when he hauled in 7 passes for 117 yards and a TD.

Iowa should be fine covering Godwin with the likes of Desmond King roaming around in the defensive backfield, but it would not surprise me to see him catch a deep one as Iowa's safeties have just plain struggled in every aspect of the game so far this season. Keeping him in front will be key for Iowa's secondary on Saturday.

Marcus Allen

Allen, the junior safety, has been the teams leading tackler so far this season and is probably their best player on the defensive side of the football. He's racked up 69 total tackles, which is good for fifth in the Big Ten, so far this season. That number is also 28 more than any other player on this defense. He was honorable mention all Big Ten last season by both the coaches and the media, but has taken a nice step forward in his junior season. Allen totaled 22 tackles against Minnesota, which is his best performance so far this year.

He is excellent in pass coverage and is an exceptional tackler. I think I'm most impressed by his ability to get downhill and make tackles in the backfield and at the line of scrimmage. He'll blitz every so often and C.J. Beathard is going to need to know where he is at at all times when Iowa is on offense. Allen is an impact player for the Nittany Lions on defense.

Garrett Sickels

Sickels is having himself a very nice senior season. He's racked up 28 total tackles, eight for a loss, and five sacks so far this year. He sat out in the first half of Penn State's game against Ohio State because he missed a class trying to get home early during PSU's bye week. Sickels came in for the second half and absolutely torched the Ohio State offensive line. He racked up 3.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks during the second half and it was really impressive to watch.

He's an edge rusher that thrives in obvious passing downs. I'd look for Iowa to possibly put a tight end on Boone Myers' side to help him out and keep Sickels away from Beathard. Iowa staying out of third and long situations will help with this as well. Letting him line up and beat Myers in obvious passing downs will spell trouble for Iowa, because he is that good. Keep an eye on where number 90 is at all times this weekend.

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