Grading the Iowa football team’s 23-20 win over Penn State

Now that’s how you finish a football game.


Grace Smith

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras passes the ball during a football game between No. 3 Iowa and No. 4 Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021. The Hawkeyes defeated the Nittany Lions 23-20.

Robert Read, Pregame Editor

Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Robert Read graded Iowa’s performance in all three phases after the Hawkeyes’ 23-20 win over Penn State.

Offense — B-

It wasn’t always pretty, but it got the job done.

Quarterback Spencer Petras overcame a dreadful first quarter and put together a solid start — all leading up to his game-winning 44-yard touchdown to wide receiver Nico Ragaini late in the fourth quarter. Petras threw two touchdowns and one interception on the day. All-Big Ten running back Tyler Goodson was also held to 3.5 yards per carry on the ground.

Defense — B+

Iowa held the then-No. 4 team in the country to 20 points and forced four turnovers. For most teams, that’d be an A. Not quite for the Hawkeyes, though.

Iowa’s offense looked vulnerable at times against Penn State when Sean Clifford was in at quarterback — often because of Clifford’s ability to make plays on the ground and through the air. Still, the Hawkeyes intercepted four passes (giving them 16 on the season) and held the Nittany Lions to 287 total yards. Not bad.

Special teams — A

Time to start contemplating if this is the best all-around special teams unit that Iowa has ever had under head coach Kirk Ferentz.

Tory Taylor heard “MVP” chants from the crowd after averaging 44.2 yards per punt on nine attempts against the Nittany Lions and downing six of them inside the 20-yard line. Don’t forget to credit special teams ace Terry Roberts or any other members of the punt team for Taylor’s success, either. Caleb Shudak is now 11-for-12 on field goal attempts this season after cashing in on three kicks on Saturday.