Week 7 halftime reactions — Iowa vs. Penn State

The Hawkeyes have played well on defense once again, and they're taking advantage of the short-passing game on offense.

Iowa+linebacker+Kristian+Welch+reaches+for+Penn+State+quarterback+Sean+Clifford+during+the+Iowa+football+game+against+Penn+State+in+Iowa+City+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+12%2C+2019.+The+Nittany+Lions+lead+the+Hawkeyes+7-6+at+half.+%28Katina+Zentz%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Week 7 halftime reactions — Iowa vs. Penn State

Iowa linebacker Kristian Welch reaches for Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford during the Iowa football game against Penn State in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The Nittany Lions lead the Hawkeyes 7-6 at half. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa linebacker Kristian Welch reaches for Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford during the Iowa football game against Penn State in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The Nittany Lions lead the Hawkeyes 7-6 at half. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Katina Zentz

Iowa linebacker Kristian Welch reaches for Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford during the Iowa football game against Penn State in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The Nittany Lions lead the Hawkeyes 7-6 at half. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

Katina Zentz

Katina Zentz

Iowa linebacker Kristian Welch reaches for Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford during the Iowa football game against Penn State in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. The Nittany Lions lead the Hawkeyes 7-6 at half. (Katina Zentz/The Daily Iowan)

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Hawkeye defense continues strong stretch

Just one week after holding Michigan to 10 points and two weeks after keeping Middle Tennessee to a field goal, the Iowa defense returned to the field with a similar showing.

After one half of play, the Hawkeyes held Penn State to 117 yards and a single touchdown, facing a one-point deficit at the break.

Iowa’s defensive line has been in full force. When Penn State found itself beginning a drive at Iowa’s 41-yard line, Cedrick Lattimore and Brady Reiff combined for a sack on second down before Chauncey Golston took down Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford on third to knock the Nittany Lions out of field-goal range.

The sacks came in the first quarter, which is when the Hawkeye defense was at its best.

Iowa held Penn State to just 10 total yards in the first frame, as the Nittany Lions failed to complete a pass.

With two quarters in the book, Penn State has thrown for 60 yards on 5-of-15 passing and ran for another 57.

One of Iowa’s main downfalls, however, has been allowing the Nittany Lions to move the chains on third down. Penn State has converted six of its 10 third downs.

Quick passing game working to Iowa’s advantage

Penn State’s defense came into this week’s matchup leading the nation with 25 sacks.

After taking eight sacks against Michigan last weekend, the Iowa offense was not going to let the pass rush beat it again this week.

The Hawkeyes have opted for quick passes against a stout Nittany Lion defense with relatively positive results in the first half.

Stanley completed 14-of-23 passes in the first half for 147 yards and was only sacked once by the Penn State defense. On multiple occasions, Iowa opted to throw quick screens out wide to receivers Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith.

Stanley’s favorite target of the first half was slot receiver Nico Ragaini, who hauled in four receptions on six targets for 26 yards. Ragaini freed himself up over the middle of the field, giving Stanley an outlet to get rid of the ball.

Despite the efficient passing game, Iowa has yet to score a touchdown.

Iowa has, for the most part, successfully negated the Penn State pass rush through the first half, in large part due to the quick passing game.

However, the offense stalled in the red zone multiple times, leaving Keith Duncan to attempt three field goals.

For the Hawkeyes to gain the upper hand over the Nittany Lions in the second half, they will need to do what they struggled to do last week — put points up on the board.

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