For a moment, Penn State won’t climb atop erratic polls, sorely hysterical after suffering mockery against an inferior team which isn’t powerless or startled facing arguably the powerful Big Ten school in the nation. Each week ultimate ramifications are serious for attaining BCS reverence when a fraudulent system can jeopardize title opportunities.
On a rainy night, in Happy Valley, it happened to be Whiteout night when a feverish Penn State crowd was spirited, wearing white ponchos, energized about avenging the stunning loss a year ago. Earning publicly immediately following last season’s letdown, a Penn State-Iowa rematch was highly-regarded and must-see TV hijacking Saturday night prime-time.
In the aftermath of a bitter taste, anticipating to redeem any melancholy and putting smiles back on fans was crestfallen still with reminders of the nightmarish shock, which stained the Nittany Lions title fortunes. The devastating failure earned them a meeting in the Rose Bowl game for a traditional Pac-10 vs. Big Ten showdown, where they were beaten by the fierce USC Trojans.
Turns out a 24-23 upset a year ago in Iowa City came back, likely inhibiting chances of possessing a gleaming crystal ball after been victimized, not only by Iowa, but the BCS. All it takes is one huge mental lapse to costly blow indications of dominating the conference.
Now with Michigan starting to establish into ultimately a valuable and successful program that has excelled under guru and practice addict Rich Rodriguez, the Nittany Lions might have it tough reaching a climax.
And with Jim Tressel and Ohio State managing to salvage lopsided victories after a demoralizing defeat to USC, it remains impenetrable on if they could recover from another season of anguish.
Saturday night wasn’t a typical victory party, but resemblance and continuous heartbreaks of last season. For the second consecutive season, Iowa seized gratifications and managed to overpower the Nittany Lions in hostile settings.
Late in the fourth quarter, the rabid crowd’s loudest minimized as they suddenly were distraught and hopeless. Early on, the fiery crowd was long past last year’s failures, and was ready for a delightful turnaround releasing all illusions.
But all of us failed to realize the Hawkeyes weren’t intimidated or awful. Rather now, the Hawkeyes matches well against No. 5 Penn State and was more physical and masterful defensively. Sure, they had the game marked on the calendar, prepared for a dramatic rematch sustaining noticeably. Throbbing and suffocating Joe Paterno’s gifted kids definitely wasn’t a fluke.
However, overlooking the Hawkeyes is an understatement. For beating up JoePa and company, credit the exceptional defensive unit. Clearly, Iowa’s defenders delivered the brutal contact and pressure to counteract with a high-powered offense.
For much of the night, it was sloppy, slick and damp as the Lions were bruised and pushed at home. Not much was allowed from a patient and fierce defense, hindering Penn State's capabilities for advancing the ball with top-notch agility and well-designed offensive schemes.
Advantages came whenever the Hawkeyes forced turnovers. In the fourth quarter, the Nittany Lions saw good fortune and retribution endeavor vanish. Suddenly, things broke down offensively as they were denied and allowed fewer yards and less rushes in the final quarter.
Playing in the elements is tough, which they were very clumsy and committed three turnovers that the Hawkeyes converted into 16 points and saddened the crowd as the final results displayed a 21-10 victory on the scoreboard.
Given respect to Iowa is the proper suggestion. They’ve automatically attained credibility and enough regard, with a statement win that came on the road and against a ranked opponent. There’s not much to ask when pulling off a miracle to beat Northern Iowa, or even stopping Penn State’s dynamic quarterback Daryll Clark.
Aren’t those good enough victories to get recognition?
Kirk Ferentz had Iowa fundamentally prepared to stun fans wearing white. In a decent tenured, Ferentz is the most underrated coach in the Big Ten. A few years ago, he could’ve taken on a new challenge on the next level, if he had accepted offers to coach in the NFL. But he rebuffed interest when Houston tried bringing in his inspirational impact.
Paterno, 81, has coached the Nittany Lions for decades, guiding successful classes to bowl games and triumph. His sanity is coaching, which is why he still doesn’t mind taken blows to the leg and sitting above in the press box if necessary.
But the more Paterno ages, the more it becomes stressful. He couldn’t care less and has made it clear that he won’t retire until his body refuses to endure road trips or standing on the sideline calling plays and inspiring players. Maybe if the Nittany Lions suffers another meltdown on offense he’ll retire, though it doesn’t seem rational when he’s deeply committed.
Meanwhile, on this particular night, Paterno witnessed a clumsy letdown. That’s enough to force an elderly coach to depart on a strong note. He watched Iowa execute defensively, harassing a high-powered offense as if they were a substandard offensive unit that belonged on a JV high school team.
He watched Iowa’s defensive ends Adrian Clayborn and Broderick Binns powerfully rush a speedy Clark, who was sacked multiple times. As tough as Binns is, he was a factor to the Hawkeyes second straight year of bragging rights. He smothered and rushed right tackle DeOn’tae Pannell, enough to force a safety and change dynamics of the game.
But most of all, he might have spoiled Penn State title privileges. After inheriting nearly 147 yards of offense on the first two possessions, the Nittany Lions never remained stabled, dropping minus-six yards for the rest of the half. The offensive line is inexperience, with flaws that could actually hurt down the stretch.
Silly errors gradually changed the complexion when Clark tossed an interception on their possession, allowing the Hawkeyes to return the ball 38 yards. Then, Iowa’s tailback Adam Robinson capitalized on a 13-yard rushing touchdown, which summarized another disappointing night where fans were out on a bone-chilling night anticipating revenge.
Now JoePa and company are victimized. From here, the Nittany Lions hopeful season is determined by a computer system. In other words, I assumed they had to finish out the season unbeaten.
But sure, with a slate of upsets across the nation today, in likelihood, anything is possible. You never know exactly. The Nittany Lions could climb back into the top five rankings. Of course, losing to an unranked Iowa won’t be easy regaining control of a ranking within the top five.
Before, it only took a victory as they controlled the leverage. But now, the computers have the leverage, which means BCS debacles are back rattling our brains and making us fuss. Fans stood and sadly wiped myriads of smiles off the faces in Happy Valley.
Instead of Penn State vs. opponent, it’s Penn State vs. BCS.
Truthfully, Iowa is the scariest Big Ten team of them all.