It might surprise readers to know that the college football team with the longest active streak of games scoring at least 30 points is not Southern Cal or Ohio State or Alabama but James Franklin’s Penn State Nittany Lions, not often known as offensive powerhouse. No. 7 PSU has scored at least 30 in 10 straight but that’s in potential major jeopardy Saturday when it hosts No. 24 Iowa, once again one of the nation’s top defensive teams. The overall total for Saturday is only 40.5 points with Penn State’s total set at 27.5.
It marks only seventh time in Big Ten history a team has had together 10 or more games of scoring at least 30 points. The last time Penn State went 10 straight games with 30+ points was 2016-17 (10 games). The school record is 15 games (1993-94).
#WeAre has looked arguably better than any Big Ten team thus far with easy wins over West Virginia, Delaware and Illinois – the Lions finished right on 30 points against the Illini last Saturday. First-year starting QB Drew Allar isn’t putting up huge numbers because he hasn’t had to yet but more importantly hasn’t turned the ball over.
Defensively, Penn State is averaging a nation-best 9.69 points off turnovers per game over the last two seasons. It forced five takeaways at Illinois and has now forced 33 turnovers (14 fumbles, 19 interceptions) over that span. Penn State is 9-0 when forcing multiple takeaways in a game since the start of last year.
Iowa is 3-0 for the 11th time under Coach Kirk Ferentz, the longest-tenured coach in the nation, and is pretty much the same team every year: Rather vanilla/conservative on offense and terrific on defense.
With Michigan transfer Cade McNamara at QB, Iowa is an ugly 13th in the Big Ten in total offense (302.0 ypg), 11th in passing offense (150.7) and ninth in rushing offense (151.3). That unit will be down tight end Luke Lachey and running backs Kaleb Johnson and Jaziun Patterson at least for Saturday due to injury. Lachey had 10 receptions for 131 yards through two-plus games this season. In 2022, he caught 28 passes for 398 yards and four TDs. Johnson and Patterson have rushed for a combined 195 yards and two touchdowns on 55 carries this year.
The #Hawkeyes defense sits fifth in the Big Ten in scoring (12.3 ppg), sixth in total defense (286.0 ypg), fifth in passing defense (179.3) and seventh in rushing defense (106.7). It has allowed just one touchdown to each of its first three opponents this year and one touchdown or less in 12 of its last 16 games. Iowa’s defense hasn’t allowed 400 or more yards in 16 consecutive games and has surrendered 14 or fewer points in 11 of its last 16.
Penn State holds a 17-14 advantage in the series but it’s 11-11 as Big Ten foes. They last met in 2021 when No. 4 PSU blew an early 17-3 lead in Iowa City and lost 23-20 to the No. 3 Hawkeyes.