No. 10 Penn State 17, No. 17 Iowa 12: Noah Cain and defense handle Hawkeyes


Penn State wins a night game in Kinnick Stadium. Again.

In a game that delivered on the promise of good defense, neither team won the race to 20 points Saturday night in Kinnick Stadium. But No. 10 Penn State did win the race to 17 points, and they’ll take it. Penn State improved to 6-0 overall and 3-0 in Big Ten play with a hard-fought 17-12 victory at No. 17 Iowa (4-2, 1-2 Big Ten).

Noah Cain rushed for 102 yards and a touchdown to help push the Nittany Lions past a stingy Iowa defense that allowed just 10 points last week against Michigan. Cain took a pitch from Sean Clifford for what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter for a 17-6 lead.

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Penn State’s defense did their part as well, even though Iowa had a couple of nice offensive highlights (including Brandon Smith‘s touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter to make things interesting), but a pair of forced turnovers and a solid job up front to shut down Iowa’s running game were too much for the Hawkeyes to overcome.

Clifford got off to a tough start to the game but calmed down and got in a bit of a groove after the second quarter rolled around. Clifford also picked up some key yards on the ground, including enough for a conversion ona  3rd and 10 in the fourth quarter to help salt away some precious seconds off the clock. Clifford should have had two passing touchdowns in the game, but Big Ten replay officials overturned a touchdown pass to tight end Pat Freiermuth, although nobody quite knows why.

this was a bit of a big win for head coach James Franklin as well. This was the first time Franklin won a game on the road against a ranked opponent. Franklin carried an 0-6 record at Penn State and 0-11 overall on the road against ranked opponents. Now that that is out of the way, it won’t stop some from issuing a reminder Franklin is 1-11 on the road against ranked opponents, but one is better than none. And there may be a couple of more ranked opponents on the road coming up in November (Ohio State and… Minnesota?).

Penn State returns home for next weekend’s massive Big Ten East battle with Michigan. The primetime whiteout game will carry heavy significance in the Big Ten East as the Nittany Lions remain undefeated and Michigan comes in with just one loss to Wisconsin.

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