It's ESPN Gameday's Game of the Week. It's a Penn State White Out. It's a revenge game.
In order for Iowa to survive the insanity, a few Hawkeyes will have to go beyond the call of duty.
Adrian Clayborn - The Iowa defensive line lost some talent when Mitch King and Matt Kroul graduated last year. They were irreplaceable team leaders with tons of experience. Yet, few were worried. The lack of worry was due, in large part, to the crazed defensive cyborg known as Adrian Clayborn.
Clayborn has done nothing but terrorize opponents for the Hawkeyes this year. He might also terrorize cab drivers, but that is a story to write in late January.
In last week's game against Arizona, Clayborn had six tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, and a shockingly quick tackle-from-behind on the nation's second leading rusher that left the ABC announcers in awe.
Last year against Penn State, Adrian had a QB sack for a 19-yard loss that caused a Daryll Clark fumble.
Clayborn is a definite Key Hawkeye in this game, and there isn't much PSU can do to stop him.
Ryan Donahue - Someone might want to check Ryan Donahue's leg to see if it is real or crafted from Terminator-like technology.
Currently, Donahue ranks 12th among FBS punters with a 45-yards-per-punt average, but most Hawkeye fans know that is what he averages on a bad day. As a red-shirt freshman for Iowa, he set the Big Ten season record with 86 punts. We gave him a lot of practice that year, and he used it to his advantage.
So far this year, Iowa is fourth in the country with a 43 yard net punting average, the result of Hawkeye opponents only having returned four punts for five yards.
Donahue has six punts this year over 50 yards in length. Nine of his 14 total punts have been downed inside the 20 yard line.
The little things help win ball games.
Donahue is a definite Key Hawkeye in this game, because his leg makes Chuck Norris envious.
Amari Spievey - Some think Amari is having a slow year. They attribute this to the Sash and Greenwood Interception Show. The reality is that some of those interceptions are the result of quarterbacks not wanting to throw in Amari Spievey's direction.
The story might be different with Penn State, though. Daryll Clark has a chip on his shoulder from last year's game against the Hawkeyes and the wide receivers are trying to claim the Rodney Dangerfield, No Respect ticket. The offense might be eager to pass, and score.
If they want to prove something, they will have to do so against the Big Ten's top cornerback.
Spievey is a definite Key Hawkeye in this game, due to his threat to pick-six after a deep Donahoe punt and an inevitable Clark mistake.
Ricky Stanzi - One of the more persistent stories in recent Hawkeye news, aside from Bryan Bulaga's [insert illness here], is Ricky Stanzi's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine. Some think that in order for the Hawkeyes to beat the Nittany Lions, Stanzi is going to have to pick up the slack and play near perfect ball.
While Stanzi definitely needs to calm down a bit, he doesn't have to play near perfect ball for the Hawkeyes to win. In fact, he should keep doing the same thing he has for the last three weeks because it is working. And it worked last year, too.
The Iowa quarterback had this same Jekyll/Hyde persona during last year's game against Penn State, starting off as a turnover's best friend and ending it like Tom Brady's little brother.
Ricky's style comes with an 11-3 record. It also beat Penn State last year. It might very well beat them again this year.
Stanzi is a definite Key Hawkeye in this game, even if his style makes you wonder sometimes.
Is it Saturday yet?
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