Penn State Football: 5 Keys to the Game vs. Iowa
Iowa vs. Penn State is always a fun battle.
These teams don't like each other and always have fun trying to knock the other out. It's going to be a scrum for the entire 60 minutes.
Penn State is looking to keep its four-game winning streak alive and stay atop the Big Ten.
So how exactly do they plan to do that? Here are the five keys to a Nittany Lions victory over the Hawkeyes:
1. Run Game Must Get Going
The Nittany Lions have the second-worst running game in the Big Ten, gaining just 138.3 yards per game on 3.5 yards per attempt.
Iowa ranks fourth in the conference, allowing just 117.3 yards a contest. Iowa's defense is solid all around, so at the very least, Penn State can't abandon the ground game by any means.
They work best staying balanced.
Senior quarterback Matt McGloin has carried this load most of the year, but the offense has always tried to keep teams honest and that's vital against this Hawkeyes defense.
2. McGloin Must Keep Things Moving
McGloin faces one of his tougher challenges of the season, with the conference's fifth-ranked defense staring him in the face.
Iowa only allows 199.8 yards per game through the air. McGloin and company will certainly find their success, but they can't force it.
Iowa can make them pay.
If the run game can establish itself, especially early, it's going to make McGloin that much more effective.
I expect a solid day from the signal caller, with 225 yards and two scores.
3. Get to the QB
Led by a front seven that's frustrated opponents thus far, the Nittany Lions have 15 sacks this season, good enough for fourth in the Big Ten.
On the flip side, Iowa has allowed just seven sacks, second in the conference.
So something's got to give.
I say the defense wins out, simply because they're on a roll right now. If Penn State can get up early, the Hawkeyes will be forced to throw more, allowing the linebackers to key in on the quarterback.
This is going to be a defensive battle, like always. Whoever can rattle the quarterback the most will likely come out on top.
4. Maintain the Momentum
Penn State is 4-0 in their last four games, scoring no fewer than 24 points in each game.
They've outscored their opponents by an average of 19.25points.
Don't expect it to be that much of a blowout. Iowa has had Penn State's number in recent years, and despite the late resurgence in Happy Valley, things likely won't change.
The one good note is that Iowa's two Big Ten victories have been against cellar-dwellers, Michigan State and Minnesota, who are a combined 1-4 in the conference.
PSU has the tougher schedule heading into this matchup and that will be pivotal. They're more prepared for a tough battle.
5. Get Ahead Early
As mentioned earlier, Penn State needs to stay balanced on offense to keep Iowa guessing.
The best way to do that is to get out to an early lead so they can stay committed to the run. Plus, that will force Iowa to resort to the air more, which isn't exactly their strong suit, at just 189 yards per game.
Plus, if they can get out ahead, it allows the defense to do its thing. And that's exactly what this team needs.
Let the defense go and keep the pressure up.
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