by Emmet Mahon
In the storied history of Penn State football, rarely has there been a game that demonstrated such utter domination than their recent contest hosting the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Nittany Lions dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage, as evidenced in a time-of-possession disparity of
45:27 to 14:33. Their performance in front of 110,830 mostly white attired fans was an epic
beatdown infused with a healthy dose of revenge for the painful, literal, and figurative, loss to
Iowa in 2021. This win was spearheaded by several Penn State players positioning themselves to
be selected in the 2024 NFL Draft. Even though the result was one-sided, a handful of Iowa
prospects helped themselves in the eyes of scouts.
S Cooper DeJean
DeJean is Iowa’s only first round prospect. Versatile and athletic, he managed four solo tackles
and one assisted tackle in this contest. None of his tackles were for loss and he had no passes
defensed. His natural position is safety, but on this night, Iowa deployed him in man coverage.
Penn State respected him by shying away from throwing in his direction. He returned two punts
for 15 yards. In the face of the Nittany Lion pummeling, he more than held his own.
P Troy Taylor
If there was one star for Iowa, it was easily Taylor. The one player specifically identified by Penn
State Head Coach James Franklin in his post-game press conference, saying his performance was
“tremendous.” Due to the Hawkeyes' offensive ineptitude, Taylor was called upon early and
often. His seven punts averaged 52.3 yards with a long of 60. Four of the seven punts traveled
over 50 yards. His efforts should lead to his garnering significant consideration for the Ray Guy
Award for the nation’s top punter.
TE Erick All
All was the Hawkeyes' leading pass catcher with three for a total of 35 yards. His fumble ended
Iowa’s opening, and lone sustained, drive. In a game with such dismal offensive output, it is
difficult for any Iowa receiver or runner to stand out. All will probably console himself knowing
that scouts will give this game its proper weight and not allow it to negatively impact his stock.
Even his fumble occurred with his knee within inches from being down and necessitating a
LB Jay Higgins
The final score might signal an offensive explosion by Penn State, but that would not be fair to
the Iowa defense. The unit held the Nittany Lions largely in check during the first half. They
eventually succumbed to a combination of short fields and exhaustion. The leading tackler for
the Hawkeyes was LB Jay Higgins. Not highly ranked as a prospect, his 10 solo and eight
assisted tackles might cause some re-evaluation of him. Among Iowa defenders, Higgins stood
DL Yahya Black
Like the rest of the Iowa defense, Black did his best to stem the Penn State assault. Going up
against one of the Big Ten’s better offensive lines, Black was able to stick his nose in the middle
of the action, and when not making tackles, was disruptive enough to force runners to the
outside. Black registered seven tackles, four solo and three assisted, in a valiant effort.
DL Logan Lee
Playing next to Black, Lee had a similarly disruptive first half. Pressuring the interior of the Penn
State offensive line, he frustrated the Penn State efforts to establish the run. Lee finished with
one solo tackle and four assisted tackles. His tackle for loss was one of six for the Hawkeye
Penn State Nittany Lions
LB Curtis Jacobs
Toward the end of the 2022 season, speculation surrounded Jacobs on whether he would declare
for the 2023 NFL Draft. He eventually decided to return to Happy Valley and his leadership has
been invaluable to a still relatively young defense. His performance to date has been steady.
Against Iowa, he was the defensive MVP. Jacobs’s two solo and one assisted tackles were tied
for the team lead on a diversified attack. One of his tackles was for a loss and he became the first
Nittany Lion since Mark D’Onfrio in 1991 with two fumble recoveries in one game. One of the
recoveries came on a botched Iowa punt return. His special teams prowess will not go unnoticed
in scouts’ evaluations.
TE Tyler Warren
Warren is Penn State’s “other” tight end. He is only a junior, but a few more appearances like the
one against Iowa might have him seriously consider making himself eligible for the 2024 NFL
Draft. Warren’s two receptions both resulted in touchdowns. The touchdowns enhanced his
reputation as Mr. White Out. Half of Warren’s eight career touchdown receptions have occurred
in White Out games.
TE Theo Johnson
Penn State fans have been frustrated by the lack of production from Johnson. The do-it-all tight
end showed signs of emerging from his slumber against the Hawkeyes. He caught six balls for
42 yards but did not find the endzone. He did enough in all aspects of the offense to remind
scouts of his enormous potential.
WR KeAndre Lambert-Smith
KLS continues to produce at a high level. Again, he topped the Penn State receivers' stat sheet.
His team high eight receptions netted 66 yards. He added his third touchdown of the season.
Lambert-Smith entered 2023 as a peripheral prospect, but his numbers to date are resulting in his
continued ascension up draft boards.
DE Demeioun “Chop” Robinson
Robinson, a probable first round draft pick, has not had the individual statistics of a game
changer this season. However, he has forced offensive coordinators to adjust their schemes to
attack the opposite side of the field. Against Iowa, he had a game that was successful both on the
score sheet and to any observer. Robinson had both a solo and an assisted tackle. He sacked the
beleaguered Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara once for six yards. He hurried McNamara on
two other occasions and forced one of Iowa’s four fumbles. Even when he was not making plays,
he was disrupting whatever little flow the Hawkeye offense was attempting to produce.
DE Adisa Issac
Playing on the opposite end of Robinson, Isaac’s presence was equally noticeable. Like
Robinson, he had a sack, this one for a nine yard loss. He added a quarterback hurry to his sack.
Isaac’s primary contribution to the shutout was off the field. He articulated the message to his
teammates to challenge themselves to dominate Iowa. His message was so well received,
Franklin specifically mentioned it in his post-game presser.
CB Kalen King
King is another Nittany Lion positioned to hear his named called early at the draft next spring.
His one assisted tackle will not impress anyone looking at the box score. Over Penn State’s first
four games, King’s stat line appears very ordinary. Those statistics reflect the opposition absolute
resistance to throwing anywhere in his vicinity. He remains in the discussion for the first
cornerback drafted in 2024.
OTs Olumuyiwa “Olu” Fashanu and Caedan Wallace
The two dominant offensive tackles continue to live up to their hype. The key cogs in the Nittany
Lion offensive attack once again assisted to put impressive numbers in the box score. Fashanu
and Wallace kept star quarterback Drew Allar upright and clean with zero sacks allowed and only
three hurries 40 passing attempts. The hurries were occurring primarily up the middle against the
still developing guards and center. Penn State posted 182 yards passing and 215 yards rushing
with the protection those two provided.
Notes: The 110,830 attendance is second in Beaver Stadium history, trailing only the 2018 White
Out against Ohio State, which had 110, 889 in the stands. The 31-0 shutout of Iowa was the first
for Penn State since beating Maryland 30-0 last season and the first against a ranked opponent
since the 1999 Alamo Bowl against Texas A&M. The score was 24-0. Penn State had 97
offensive snaps to Iowa’s 33. That is the only time in the last five years of FBS action that one
team had more than 60 offensive plays than their opponent. The 76 yards allowed by Penn State
is the second fewest in program history. The record is a staggering -107 yards “allowed” against
Syracuse on October 18, 1947. The 76 yards also represent the second fewest gained by a Head
Coach Kirk Ferentz Iowa team.
OT Olu Fashanu was named the Outland Lineman of the Week for his performance against Iowa.
Emmet Mahon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org