Penn State is off to its worst start in the 134-year program history after 41-21 loss to Iowa. It’s the first time the Nittany Lions have opened a season 0-5.
After a week of quarterback controversy around which player Head Coach James Franklin would start, backup Will Levis got his first nod of the season. Levis went 13 for 16 with 106 yards, plus 34 yards rushing on 15 carries.
With 4:09 left to play in the third quarter, Penn State switched to typical starter Sean Clifford who threw back-to-back touchdowns on his first two plays of the game. The second touchdown was a 68-yard bomb to WR Jahan Dotson; Clifford also ran in the two-point conversion attempt to close the Iowa lead to 31-21.
From there, Clifford lost control, regressing to the quarterback who threw six interceptions this season coming into the game. The first, early in the fourth quarter was returned to the Penn State 23 yard line, which led to a Hawkeyes field goal. The second, and far more costly interception, returned 74 yards by Daviyon Nixon for the pick-6 with less than two minutes to play, putting Iowa up 41-21.
Franklin said that the play of both quarterbacks and the turnover issue is a concern.
In his postgame press conference, Franklin said turnovers are the most concerning issue against Iowa giving up four, while Iowa only lost one turnover.
“Turnovers are the story of the game and the story of the season,” Franklin said. “We got into this situation together, and we’ll get out of it together.”
Penn State’s defense allowed 186 yards in the air, and 175 rushing yards against Iowa. The concern for Franklin after last week’s Nebraska was tackling, and it didn’t seem to improve against Iowa, surrendering 10 explosive plays.
Also postgame, Franklin updated Pat Freiermuth’s status explaining that the tight end will have season-ending surgery on an injury suffered during the Ohio State game.
BREAKING: Pat Freiermuth is going to have season-ending surgery next week for an injury from the Ohio State game— Allie Berube (@allieberube) November 22, 2020