Fireworks exploded as the Hawkeyes took the field Saturday.
It all went downhill from there.
Down the hill and off the cliff.
And crashed in a massive explosion at the bottom of a deep ravine.
Penn State demolished Iowa 38-14 in Kinnick Stadium. It was a humbling takedown of Iowa (4-3, 2-1 Big Ten) on both sides of the ball.
“Needless to say we’re disappointed with our performance,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We just couldn’t get anything going offensively, defensively or special teams.”
Penn State (5-2, 3-0), a program that can’t play in the post season the next four years, came into Iowa City and outgained the Hawkeyes 504 to 209 in yardage and 28 to 14 in first downs.
The Nittany Lions used its “NASCAR” quick offense and the high-octane play-calling left Iowa in the dirt. Senior quarterback Matt McGloin finished 26-for-38 for 289 yards and sophomore running back Bill Belton had 103 yards on 16 rushes with 3 touchdowns.
“Football is a sport that you have to show up ready to play every single day, every single week,” Penn State coach Bill O’Brien said. “If you don’t, you’re going to be in trouble.”
It was a painful loss for Iowa more than just on the scoreboard. Left tackle Brandon Scherff was carted off the field with a major leg injury in the second quarter. Two plays later, right guard Andrew Donnal limped off and was on crutches with a right knee injury.
Ferentz confirmed after the game that Scherff was probably done for the season. He said they would check back on Donnal in a few days.
Iowa finished with just 17 rushing yards. Mark Weisman, who injured his ankle the previous Saturday, did play, but had just 9 yards on 5 carries and didn’t play in the second half.
“I wasn’t really being effective out there,” said Weisman, who came into the game with four straight 100-yard games. “I didn’t take any steps backwards, which is a good sign.”
True freshman Greg Garmon had 25 yards on 7 carries.
Iowa senior quarterback James Vandenberg was 17-of-36 for 181 yards. He was intercepted twice and was booed by Iowa fans on several occasions.
“It’s rough, but it’s well-deserved,” Vandenberg said. “You score seven offensive points in four quarters, that’s going to win zero games. We’ve got to do a better job of getting points on the board and give our defense a chance.”
Vandenberg did throw a touchdown, his third of the season, with 4:11 left in the fourth quarter. Senior receiver Keenan Davis caught it, his first TD of the season. Davis had 83 yards on 4 receptions.
But the touchdown was far too little, and far, far too late.
Iowa went 3-and-out in each of its first two drives in the first half. When the offense did get into Penn State territory, junior kicker Mike Meyer couldn’t connect.
Meyer, who had hit 13 straight field goals and 14-of-15 overall, missed from 49 yards and 37 yards in the first half.
Meanwhile, Penn State kicker Sam Ficken, who was 3-of-9 coming in, hit a 34-yard field goal for the Nittany Lions on the way to a 24-0 halftime lead.
It was that kind of night.
“We just weren’t able to do anything on offense,” Vandenberg said. “We didn’t throw the ball well, we didn’t catch it well, we didn’t block well, we didn’t run well. There wasn’t very many positives in tonight’s game.”
The Nittany Lions, using their “NASCAR” hurry-up offense, scored three first-half touchdowns.
The first came on a 31-yard pass from McGloin to tight end Jesse James.
The Nittany Lion tight ends — used by O’Brien like he used to as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots — had a successful night.
Sophomore receiver Allen Robinson caught the second touchdown pass to make it 14-0. Belton had an 11-yard run to make it 24-0.
“We were doing our best,” Iowa junior linebacker James Morris said. “We just need to play when the ball is snapped, beat the guy across the line of scrimmage from us. If we do that, we’ll be alright.”
Iowa was shut out in the first half since Nov. 4, 2006 (a 21-7 loss to Northwestern).
Things went from bad to worse quickly at the start of the second half. It started with a 46-yard kickoff return by Jesse Della Valle (Meyer had the touchdown-saving tackle).
Then on the first play from scrimmage, McGloin connected with Brandon Moseby-Felder for 42 yards. The next play was a short touchdown run by Belton.
On Iowa’s first offensive play, Vandenberg was intercepted by linebacker Michael Mauti.
The sting of that turnover was lessoned a bit when Zach Zwinak fumbled the ball into the end zone as was about to cross the goalline.
But Penn State still went up 38-0 at the start of the fourth quarter on the third touchdown run by Belton.
Down by five touchdowns, Iowa finally got a positive play. Junior Jordan Cotton had a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to keep Iowa from being shut out for the first time since 2000. Iowa was able to extend their streak of games without being shut out to 150.
There weren’t many fans left in the stands when the clock ticked down to 0:00 in the final quarter. Iowa kept its first-team offense in the entire 60 minutes.
Ferentz said he never thought about putting another quarterback in. “Right now, James is our quarterback,” Ferentz said.
Iowa goes back on the road next Saturday at Northwestern. The Wildcats are 6-2, 2-2 after a 29-28 loss to Nebraska on Saturday.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football