IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Spencer Petras threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Nico Ragaini to complete No. 3 Iowa’s comeback from a two-touchdown deficit, No. 4 Penn State’s offense did next to nothing after quarterback Sean Clifford was knocked out of the game and the Hawkeyes held on for a bruising 23-20 victory Saturday.
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The Hawkeyes (6-0, 3-0) took control of the Big Ten West with their 12th straight win and thrust themselves into the College Football Playoff conversation.
Penn State (5-1, 2-1) lost for the first time in 10 games and headed back to Happy Valley with a list of injuries that could make its path through the rest of the season difficult.
When Petras took a knee in victory formation to end the game, students and other fans poured out of their end zone seats to celebrate. Bodies were packed together with the entire width of the field from the south end zone to the 10-yard line on the other end.
The Hawkeyes’ grinding offense isn’t built to play from behind, but it managed to come back in the biggest game at Kinnick Stadium since then-No. 1 Iowa beat then-No. 2 Michigan in 1985.
Iowa won the field-position battle thanks to the work of punter Tory Taylor, who repeatedly pinned Penn State deep in its own end after Clifford went out of the game in the second quarter.
Iowa chipped away with field goals by Caleb Shudak to cut it to 20-16. The winning drive started when it got the ball at the Penn State 44 with 6:35 left. Petras rolled to his right and found Ragaini alone on the left side. Linebacker Curtis Jacobs knocked him out of bounds, but not before he got the ball over the goal line. All-America center Tyler Linderbaum was the first man to greet him in the end zone.
On the Nittany Lions’ last three possessions, they turned over the ball on downs, Matt Hankins came up with Iowa’s fourth interception of the game and they turned it over on downs again.
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