First Road Test: Penn State vs. Iowa
The No. 4 Nittany Lions travel to Kinnick Stadium on Saturday to take on Iowa. This is the first road test for Penn State. Also, this is the first real test of the season, not just the first road test. The Nittany Lions take on the undefeated Iowa Hawkeyes in Kinnick Stadium, under the lights. A traditionally hard fought game on both sides does not look to change this year.
Four Things to Look for: Penn State vs. Iowa
1. A new tradition in Kinnick Stadium
There is a new tradition in Kinnick Stadium. It entails every fan turning and waving to the pediatric cancer patients and their families admitted to the newly built Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. The newly built hospital overlooks Kinnick Stadium. The tradition was started at the beginning of the first home game of this year.
A sight of 65,000 people waving at once to the brave children and their families has been the feel-good story of the young college football season. This simple gesture has become a weekly highlight to everyone in the hospital. It has become so popular that the hospital has to limit the “viewing zone” to patients and their immediate families. To catch a glimpse of this new tradition be sure to watch your screen at the end of the first quarter. That is when the magic happens.
2. Saquon Barkley leaves Iowa head coach, Kirk Ferentz, speechless
Saquon Barkley has been outstanding through the first three games of the season and Kirk Ferentz has taken notice. When asked his reaction to Barkley’s play during the 56-0 win against Georgia State, Kirk Ferentz said in an interview, “Oh, crap.” Ferentz has also called Barkley “a really impressive football player.” This is nothing new to anyone that has been watching Barkley for the last three seasons. For Penn State to win the first road test this weekend, Barkley must continue this production. He will have to continue his rushing and receiving dominance for the Nittany Lions to escape Kinnick Stadium with a win.
3. Hawkeye running back Akrum Wadley
Akrum Wadley exited the game against North Texas last week with an ankle injury, but he is expected to play in the first road test for Penn State on Saturday. Last season Wadley rushed for 1081 yards and had 10 touchdowns. That is in addition to his 315 receiving yards. Wadley is an explosive back, some of which was seen before exiting the game last week. He had a 74-yard receiving touchdown that was called back due to a celebration penalty. He is arguably the best offensive player the Penn State defense has seen this season and is definitely a player that they will have to shut down early Saturday night.
4. Offensive guard Brendon Mahon’s return
The running game, even with the nation’s top back Saquon Barkley, has not produced as much as the Penn State fans would like in the last two games. That lack in production was in part due to the hand injury of offensive guard Brendon Mahon. Mahon will return in the first road test for Penn State on Saturday. This is welcomed news for Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley, as it should open holes for both to run through. Mahon is a veteran on the o-line and his presence makes everyone better. This is a definite positive against an experienced Hawkeye defense that has stood strong in the first three games of the season.
First road test for Penn State: Take Aways
The first road test for Penn State is this Saturday. Penn State travels to Kinnick Stadium, under the lights, with pink locker rooms against an improving Hawkeye football team. The Penn State defense will have to shut down Iowa running back, Akrum Wadley, early. The offense will have to continue to find creative ways to use Saquon Barkley and use Brendan Mahon’s return to their full advantage. Look for a close game, with the Nittany Lions making it out of their first road test with a win.