Penn State shuts out Iowa: Initial thoughts on Nittany Lions’ White Out blowout

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — A rainy, sloppy evening at Beaver Stadium couldn’t slow down No. 7 Penn State as it dismantled No. 24 Iowa 31-0 in front of a White Out crowd of 110,830. Here are my initial reactions:

• Drew Allar didn’t have gaudy stats, and yet, in the fourth quarter, the sophomore stood on the sideline as Beau Pribula took over for mop-up time with 10:53 left in the game and Penn State up by 31.

Allar’s performance was a strong reminder of what he is capable of, as he finished with completions on 25-of-37 passes for 166 yards and four touchdowns. Though he averaged just 4.5 yards per attempt, he made smart decisions, remained turnover-free in a Penn State uniform and mixed in a few dazzling throws.

None were more impressive than the laser Allar delivered on a 9-yard touchdown pass to Khalil Dinkins on fourth-and-1 in the second quarter. It’s the kind of read and throw that show why his career is on an upward trajectory.

• Penn State’s opening drive of the second half was a good example of what the offense can do when it clicks. After an up-and-down first half in which it ran 48 plays and controlled the clock for 21:13 but had just 10 points to show for it, Penn State was balanced and methodical to open the third quarter and take control of the game.

Allar completed passes to four players, including three to top target KeAndre Lambert-Smith. Lambert-Smith was the reliable, sure-handed player that Penn State needed him to be. Nicholas Singleton carried the ball four times and Kaytron Allen ran it three times. Allar also had a QB keeper. The end result? Allar completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Warren. The 15-play, 75 yard drive ate up 6 minutes, 40 seconds and put the Nittany Lions ahead 17-0, effectively shutting the door on any chance of Iowa hanging in this one.

• The spectacle of the White Out never gets old. Even with the rain, he announced crowd of 110,830 was the second-largest in Beaver Stadium history. Concerns about the visual appeal of a White Out being diminished by the conditions were quickly washed away. Many fans went with white rain ponchos to keep the theme alive. Even with Penn State up 31-0 early in the fourth quarter, many fans remained.

The impact of the crowd was felt too. Iowa had a false start penalty with 9:19 left in the first quarter and then followed by burning a timeout. The home crowd yet again showed it’s a force.

• Curtis Jacobs played the game of his Penn State career. The junior linebacker had the first big play of the night by recovering a fumble on defense. He followed with a heads-up play on special teams in the second quarter when a punt hit off an Iowa player. Jacobs was the first Penn State player to recover two fumbles in a game since Mark D’Onofrio did so on in 1991 against Temple.

• Penn State knows a big strength of its defense is the talent and depth at defensive end. It showed on Saturday. For the first time this season, Manny Diaz at times put all three ends on the field together. It worked brilliantly. Chop Robinson was a force all game, including a near-sack late in the first half. He bull-rushed through the middle of the defensive line while Adisa Isaac appeared to grab Cade McNamara’s helmet and got the sack. It was one of the most dominant plays Robinson has made in his career. He later record a strip-sack of McNamara, with the fumble recovered by Isaac. Dani Dennis-Sutton also had a quarterback hurry in the first half and was disruptive throughout.

• Wide receiver Dante Cephas made his first start at Penn State. Harrison Wallace III, who was listed as questionable, did play. So did Omari Evans, who had been limited while dealing with an injury. Penn State’s starting trio was announced as Cephas, KeAndre Lambert-Smith and Liam Clifford.

• Penn State was 4-for-4 on fourth downs. Allar is 6 feet 5, 242 pounds, and when faced with fourth-and-1, Penn State did not hesitate going with the popular tush-push. Allar has the frame to pick up those yards, and it doesn’t hurt having Warren behind him making sure he picks up the yard.

• Allen got the start at running back and had 21 carries for 72 yards. The longest run of the night belonged to Singleton, who ripped off a 19-yard run. Still, the long rushes haven’t been happening for this backfield. The weather undoubtedly played a role Saturday, but at some point it feels like these backs are too good not to start breaking off more explosive rushes. Singleton finished with 17 carries for 49 yards.

• Penn State ran 97 plays for 397 yards to Iowa’s 33 plays for 76 yards. It won the turnover battle 4-0 and had 27 first downs to Iowa’s four. That’s a recipe for the Nittany Lions’ first shutout win against an AP-ranked opponent since the 1999 Alamo Bowl.

Putting on a clinic against a team many viewed as the best in the Big Ten West isn’t something to bat an eye at. These two teams have played in plenty of weird and dramatic games, but this one wasn’t close after Penn State shut the door early in the third quarter. Penn State has yet to play a perfect game but keeps winning with relative ease.

(Photo: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images)

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