About two hours remain before kickoff between Penn State (4-1) and Iowa (3-1) here at Beaver Stadium. Here are some notes to help preview today’s game and keep you busy until 3:30.
The Hawkeyes have had a ton of success against the Nittany Lions as of late, having won eight of the last nine meetings, including the last three. As usual, when the game starts, scroll down the page and join our live chat where I will provide live updates and take your questions and comments during the game.
-It’s no secret that Penn State’s defense has kept the team in games this season. Tom Bradley’s unit has held four of its five opponents to 10 points or less, with the exception being No. 2 Alabama when it allowed 27. But how does the Nittany Lions defense stack up among the nation’s best? Through five weeks of the season, it ranks fifth in total defense (250.4 yards yielded per game), sixth in passing defense (155.4 yards per game) and seventh in scoring defense (12 points per game). It should be interesting to see how it fares against an Iowa offense that averages 421.8 yards.
-The Hawkeyes’ offense is second in the Big Ten, averaging 37.8 points. Though they are 10th in rushing offense, their 281.2 yards per game through the air is the best in the conference. Junior quarterback James Vandenberg throws for 273.8 yards per game and has 10 touchdown passes – double the touchdown’s produced from Penn State’s Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin combined – to just one interception.
-Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Penn State’s 1986 national championship team – the second of coach Joe Paterno’s two titles – will be honored at halftime of today’s game. More than 60 members from that team will be present, including Shane Conlan, John Shaffer, D.J. Dozier, Chris Conlin and Blair Thomas.
-Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz, who has experienced a lot of success against Penn State, actually has multiple ties to the school and its legendary coach. His father-in-law, Gerry Hart, was a high school teammate of Paterno’s at Brooklyn Prep. Kevin Hart, the brother of Ferentz’ wife Mary, played for Paterno in the 1970’s and one of Ferentz’ nephews, Mike Hart, played at Penn State in the last decade. Ferentz played his high school football at Upper St. Clair in Pittsburgh, the same school former Penn State linebacker Sean Lee attended.
-Several of Iowa’s players hail from the Philadelphia area: senior defensive tackle Mike Daniels (Highland Regional, Blackwood, N.J.) and backup defensive back Greg Castillo (St. Joseph’s Prep, Mount Laurel, N.J.), who is the son of Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Defensive lineman Tom Nardo (Lancaster), linebacker Marcus Collins (Yeadon) and defensive lineman John Raymon (Richboro) are from Pennsylvania.