Penn State Football Falls to 0-5 for 1st Time in Program History After Iowa Loss

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorNovember 22, 2020

Penn State head coach James Franklin walks the sideline during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Iowa in State College, Pa., on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger)
Barry Reeger/Associated Press

Penn State entered the 2020 college football season as the No. 8 team in the Associated Press poll, but the Nittany Lions have now registered the first 0-5 start in program history after falling at home to the Iowa Hawkeyes, 41-21 on Saturday. 

Per Brett McMurphy of Stadium, PSU is also guaranteed its first losing season since 2004, when the team went 4-7. The Nittany Lions' best possible result this year is 3-5 with three regular-season games remaining. 

Penn State's 15-season streak of winning records was the fourth-longest current run in Division I FBS, per McMurphy.

Penn State's football history dates back to 1887. The Nittany Lions have only had 18 losing seasons, including 2020.

PSU entered this season with high hopes despite some significant departures, including defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos (NFL draft) and linebacker Micah Parsons (opt out).

However, the season has snowballed into disaster following a stunning 36-35 overtime loss at Indiana that ended with Hoosiers quarterback Michael Penix Jr. scoring a two-point conversion on a play so close that officials could have called it either way.

PSU put up a respectable showing against No. 3 Ohio State the following week, losing 38-25. Wideout Jahan Dotson broke out with three touchdowns.

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However, PSU followed that game with a 35-19 home loss to Maryland and a 30-23 road defeat to Nebraska.

The latter game saw Will Levis take over for a benched Sean Clifford at quarterback. PSU also notably trailed 27-6 at halftime.

On Saturday, the Nittany Lions led 7-3 but allowed 21 second-quarter points to trail 24-7 into the half. Dotson excelled again with eight catches for 139 yards and a touchdown, but PSU had no answer for the Iowa rushing attack, which accounted for 175 yards and four scores.

PSU will close it season with games against Michigan, Rutgers and Michigan State.