There was supposed to be suspense, a reason to care late, at Carver-Hawkeye Arena Saturday night. Instead, Iowa was left wondering what had gone wrong by the time the final two bouts began, while Penn State secured a victory that was hardly in doubt.
The top-ranked Lions squashed the Hawkeyes 24-12 in front of 13,747 mostly clad in black and yellow, improving to 7-0 while dropping Iowa to 6-1. Despite both being Big Ten members, the meet was counted as a non-conference affair.
Men of the Match: It'd be easy to single out either 165-pounder David Taylor or 184-pound bruiser Ed Ruth and call it a night, but this one had a group feeling to it.
Penn State sat tied with Iowa, 9-9, at intermission, getting victories from Nico Megaludis (125), Zain Retherford (141), and Zack Beitz (149). It meant a swing match at 174 between Matt Brown and Pennsylvania native Mike Evans would still matter and potentially decide the match.
It didn't work out that way, as Taylor majored No. 4 Nick Moore 12-4 with 4:21 in riding time, Brown mauled Evans with a third period ride out to win 4-1 at 174 pounds, all before Ruth whipped around No. 2 Ethan Lofthouse for a 12-4 major. The back-to-back-to-back wins gave Penn State an all but insurmountable 20-9 lead.
Morgan McIntosh made sure of it, though, one match later with a dominating 16-4 major over Sammy Brooks, in for the ranked Nathan Burak who did not wrestle, to cement the team score victory at 24-9.
Fall of the Match: The nod here goes to Iowa's Tony Ramos, a noted animal who pinned Jordan Conaway at 133-pounds a year ago with a nifty underhook whipover. He did it again Saturday, this time to Jimmy Gulibon.
The No. 3 ranked 133-pounder already had four takedowns, and Gulibon had already been nailed with a stall warning, by the time he flipped the Lion to his back at the 5:22 mark of the third. At the time, it appeared to be a major boon for the Hawkeyes as it gave them a 6-3 lead, but it never materialized for head coach Tom Brands' side.
Long Time, First Time: Evans has never lost at Carver-Hawkeye before Saturday night, but he ran into a buzz saw in Brown that put together the match he needed to.
At halftime, Sanderson told the Big Ten Network that Brown would have to hit his shots quickly and cleanly. And while he only connected on one, it was more than enough to be paired with a masterful third period ride out to land the decision.
For his efforts, Brown was named the Big Ten Network's most outstanding wrestler.
Big Man Rising: The improvement by heavyweight Jimmy Lawson has been dually noted throughout the first half of the 2013-2014 season. He's ranked 12th, and entered Iowa a perfect 10-0.
Lawson suffered his first setback Saturday night, as a third period reversal was nullified by a later one from Iowa's Bobby Telford to give the Hawkeye a 3-2 victory. But it should be noted that this performance isn't one we would have seen from Lawson last year, and despite victory not being had, is an example of where the heavyweight has come in the year and chance he's been in Penn State's room.
He Said It: Assistant head coach Cody Sanderson joined the radio broadcast after the match to offer his thoughts in the win.
On the match itself: What I liked most was the fact that our guys are attacking right way. We're attacking in the first period and even if were taken down, we're attacking.
On winning at Iowa: At this point in the season, we're satisfied. It was a good win in front of a hostile crowd. It's good to get booed a little once in awhile.