IOWA: Game Breakdown

The good, the bad and the very ugly from Penn State's stunning loss to the Hawkeyes at Beaver Stadium Saturday night.

Penn State entered Saturday's Big Ten opener against Iowa at Beaver Stadium with serious questions about its No. 5 ranking. The 3-0 Nittany Lions opened with easy wins over a trio of outclassed opponents -- Akron, Syracuse and Temple -- so many wondered exactly how PSU would react to its first serious test.

To say it failed would be an understatement.

The Nittany Lions proved their critics right by racing out to an early 10-0 lead and then failing to score the rest of the way. The offense fizzled. The defense played well overall, but failed to make any game-changing plays. Special teams broke down in a big way.

Here is what went down.

MEN OF THE HOUR: After giving up 10 early points, the Iowa defense shut down and shut out the Penn State offense. Linebacker Pat Angerer led the way with 14 tackles and an interception that set up a touchdown.

CLOSE SECOND: Penn State linebacker Navorro Bowman was outstanding in his return to action from a groin injury, with 13 tackles, including three behind the line.

TURNING POINT: Penn State led 10-5 early in the fourth quarter when Hawkeye Adrian Clayborn ran over Nick Sukay and blocked Jeremy Boone's punt. He scooped it up and dashed 53 yards for a touchdown that gave Iowa an insurmountable 11-10 lead. You knew it was only a matter of time until State's poor special teams cost it dearly. But on a punt? Boone had never had a kick blocked in two previous seasons as the starter.

SOLID STRATEGY: Even after falling behind 10-0, including being burned by a 79-yard bomb on PSU's first play from scrimmage, Iowa never panicked. It used a low-risk offense, and counted on its defense and special teams to make the difference. That game plan worked perfectly. Kirk Ferentz gets the best of Joe Paterno yet again.

NUMBERS GAME: Lion QB Daryll Clark was 6 of 9 for 104 yards and a score in the first quarter. He was 6 of 23 for 94 yards and three picks the rest of the way. His offensive line struggled. One pick should have been caught by tailback Evan Royster. But overall, Clark's worst day since last year's loss to Iowa.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Iowa has now won seven of its last eight games against Penn State.

SPECIAL DELIVERY: Powell had two kickoff returns for 54 yards, including the aforementioned 36-yarder.

WHAT'S UP WITH?

• The goofy motivational video played for the fans before the game. After the PSU players and coaches went out of their way to say revenge was not a factor in this game, did the marketing folks really have to show footage of the Hawkeyes beating PSU in Iowa City last season?

• PSU center Stefen Wisniewski's shotgun snaps. He's had more low snaps in the last two games than predecessor A.Q. Shipley had in three seasons as the starter. Have to imagine the staff is at least considering moving him back to guard and giving Doug Klopacz a shot at center.

• The Nittany Lion offensive line dominating early but then coming completely unglued in the second quarter.

• Penn State fans heading for the exits after the Lions fell behind 18-10. There was still 8:32 left in the game. Fair-weather, indeed.

• PSU All-Big Ten defensive tackle Jared Odrick disappearing. He had three tackles, none behind the line, and was generally a non-factor. Fellow tackle Ollie Ogbu had one tackle.

• Ferentz's continued mastery of Paterno. The Iowa coach always plays it safe against the Lions, apparently because he knows his team will outplay Penn State in the clutch.

• Sukay being flagged for running into the punter after he was blocked into Iowa's Ryan Donahue late in the second quarter.

HIT SQUAD: Penn State freshman corner Stephon Morris drilled Iowa receiver Paul Chaney Jr. on a second-quarter out pattern. It sent the ball flying back 10 yards.

HIDDEN HERO: Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi's stat line was nothing special: 11 of 26 for 135 yards and two picks. But he was calm under pressure and didn't make any game-changing mistakes.

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE: Not that anyone will remember, but Powell had a monster day, with three catches for 96 yards and a 79-yard score, two carries for nine yards and the damage on kickoff returns. He finished with 157 all-purpose yards.

DID YOU NOTICE?

Nerraw McCormack replaced DeOn'tae Pannell at right tackle in the second quarter, shortly after Pannell allowed a sack of Clark that resulted in a fumble and safety.

• PSU senior linebacker and captain Sean Lee dressed for the game but did not even warm up. He did go out for the coin flip.

• Penn State won the toss for the first time all season and deferred.

UNANSWERED QUESTION: Can the Nittany Lions bounce back from another ugly loss to the Hawkeyes?

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