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Penn State Football: Handing Out The Grades Following A 21-19 Win Over Iowa

on September 24, 2017 10:00 AM

Well that was something. Penn State found a way to overcome a tough night in Iowa City to beat the Hawkeyes 21-19 on the final play of the game.

But you probably already know that.

It wasn't always pretty, Penn State's offense moved the ball but also struggled to finish drives. The defense was stout but gave up a few key plays. Special teams struggled to put points on the board and it looked like a season of excitement may come to a premature end.

It didn't though, and the Nittany Lions stay alive to fight another day. 

Offense: B-

Maybe it's unfair but this grade isn't going to account for Saquon Barkley's night. That was a superhuman effort and an unnatural display of talent. Barkley gets an A+ because you could ask for anything more out of a player. The rest of the offense wasn't nearly as sharp though. The Nittany Lions were 6-of-18 on third down and failed to finish more than a few drives that started with great field position. Against Iowa it didn't hurt Penn State as much as it could have, but if the Nittany Lions lost they really only would have had themselves to blame.

In the end Trace McSorley made the throws he needed to make and his receivers and blockers got the job done in the final two minutes. The result was there, but things clearly could have been better.

Defense: A

This was a game to prove Penn State's defense was for real and the Nittany Lions did just that. This grade is only lower because of the long run that could have cost Penn State the game. All told though fans will take that kind of performance every week. Iowa never really fooled the Nittany Lions and a 3-of-11 rate on third down is about all you can ask for. 273 yards of total offense and 19 points is something you will take each week in the Big Ten, especially on the road.

Jason Cabinda made his first real appearance of the season leading the team with six tackles and Shareef Miller looks to be doing just fine in his increased role at DE.

All told Penn State was solid in coverage, on the line and at the second level. The Nittany Lions nearly lost, but as an aggregate total, this one wouldn't have been on the defense.

Special Teams: C+

Penn State has a kicking problem even if it doesn't want to admit it. The snap/hold/kick combo is working out some issues and so far it's nearly costing the Nittany Lions some games. DeAndre Thompkins was limited due to great punting and Barkley never really broke a good return given a handful of chances.

That being said, Blake Gillikin continues to be one of Penn State's best assets and had three of his four punts downed inside the 20 with one coming at the goal line. 

Overall: B

There are two side to this game. Penn State won and found a way to win, but the Nittany Lions ought to be playing a bit better when it comes to finishing drives. What this team can do makes this grade lower by default, but it's hard to argue with the result. That Barkley kid isn't bad either.

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