It might not have been pretty, but Penn State will take it.
The No. 10 Nittany Lions took down the No. 17 Iowa Hawkeyes 17-12 on the road on Saturday to remain undefeated on the season.
Sean Clifford wasn't great, but the defense made the most of the game forcing several big turnovers to give the offense some short fields.
Iowa never got anything going offensively and it squandered a pretty good performance by its defense.
Three takeaways from No. 10 Penn State's win over No. 17 Iowa
A valiant effort
There aren't a lot of tougher challenges for a left tackle in the Big 10 than Iowa defensive end A.J. Epenesa. The massive human being can rush the passer and plays the run well and is a handful every single play on the field.
But give Des Holmes a lot of credit, he was very good against the potential first-round pick and kept him away from Sean Clifford for most of the game. He did give up one sack, but it was pretty clear on the play that Clifford stepped up into the pocket when he really didn't need to so that was more on the QB than anything.
There’s been a lot of talk surrounding A.J. Epenesa’s lack of production this season. He’s faced plenty of double teams along the way.
This is what happens when you trying blocking Epenesa 1-on-1. pic.twitter.com/Pkj2B5ysAq
— Joe Kipp (@JuhKipp) October 13, 2019
Not a lot of people may know Holmes' name, but make no mistake, he made a huge impact on this game.
Stretch the dang field
Iowa's offense was crazy balanced at the end of the third quarter on Saturday. They had 27 runs and 27 passes and had every single offensive coordinator thrilled with that number. Here's the thing though, it really seemed like the Hawkeyes were far more focused on their balance than they were on actually playing good offense.
The Hawkeyes have been in a massive rut offensively over the last two games and it's easy to see why. Iowa resorts to a lot of quick passes and wide receiver screens and run plays just for the sake of running them. The issue with that is the opposing defense knows they can put a lot of their focus on the box and that makes it really tough to run an offense.
Iowa needs to stretch the field to get things going and it is simply refusing to do that right now. The one play the Hawkeyes decided to even kind of go deep resulted in a 36-yard reception by Ihmir Smith-Marsette. But they didn't go back to it and that's why they never broke out on anything. They wouldn't adjust and do anything to change what the defense was looking at.
K.J. Hamler right, K.J. Hamler left, K.J. Hamler up the middle
Yes, we know this is usually a phrase used for a running back, but here's the thing: we don't care how you get the ball to K.J. Hamler, get the ball to the guy.
The wide receiver is hands down the Nittany Lions' best player and he had a total of five catches at the end of the third quarter. Treat him like Michael Crabtree. Get him the ball 15 times in a game, or 20 if you can do it. Hamler is that kind of a special player. Just watch this play:
— ESPN (@espn) October 13, 2019
The Nittany Lions don't have Myles Sanders this year and they really don't have Saquon Barkley. There is no running back to run their offense through but they would be smart to get it out quickly and often to a wide receiver like that especially when Clifford has some pocket awareness issues.