Stinging loss in ’16 now motivates Hawkeyes
IOWA CITY – The memory still lingers.
That shouldn’t be a shock. It’s not every day the Iowa football team gets handled the way Penn State handled the Hawkeyes last season.
The Nittany Lions beat Iowa about every way imaginable, piling up 599 yards of offense and limiting the Hawkeyes to 30 yards rushing in a 41-14 rout under the lights at Beaver Stadium.
“That still stings,” defensive end Parker Hesse said Saturday after Iowa moved to 3-0 with a 31-14 win over North Texas. “It’s something we’re looking to try to avenge.’’
The effort on that early November night, one week before the Hawkeyes stunned second-rated Michigan 14-13, was all so un-Iowa, a struggle in nearly every phase of the game.
Saquon Barkley rushed for 167 yards and Trace McSorley picked apart the Iowa secondary, completing 11-of-18 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns.
Barkley and McSorley went on to win a Big Ten championship and play in the Rose Bowl.
The first step in defending that title comes Saturday in a 6:30 p.m. game at Iowa, the conference opener for two teams among seven Big Ten programs with unblemished records three weeks into season.
Barkley and McSorley had record-setting days in limited action for fourth-rated Penn State in a 56-0 win over Georgia State on Saturday night while Iowa used a strong second half to get past North Texas in its final tune-up for the Big Ten season.
“Things change now,” linebacker Josey Jewell said. “There’s a different feel to things when you get into the Big Ten and we definitely have to find another level quickly. Penn State doesn’t give us much of a choice.’’
Last season, Penn State didn’t give Iowa much of a chance.
“I think we remember that pretty well,” Jewell said.
It’s hard to forget one of the tougher nights the Hawkeyes have had in a while as a team.
Jewell said he planned to get an early peek at what the Nittany Lions are about this season on Saturday night.
He suspects he wasn’t alone.
“This is a game where you probably go home and get on it (Saturday night), just to get ahead a bit and check out what they’re about this year, what they’ve been running and how to deal with it,” Jewell said.
The Hawkeyes certainly know what they’re getting into.
“We’ve got to figure out a way to get it done,” Hesse said.
That task begins on the practice field, where coach Kirk Ferentz said his team has plenty of room to grow.
“You watch the film, watch the game, and it’s obvious we have a lot of work to do right now,” Ferentz said. “That’s what is in front of us. I think my biggest concern is we have to improve faster. I’m seeing some things that need to get addressed.’’