A night game in Kinnick Stadium can be quite an ominous scene for a championship contender. In Week 4, Penn State will likely head to Iowa with a 3-0 record and a promising offense with high Big Ten aspirations, but they will have to avoid a trap that can be a night game against the Hawkeyes.
ESPN has officially announced that Iowa’s Week 4 home game against Penn State will be given a primetime kickoff at 7:30 p.m. Eastern on September 23.
Last season, Kinnick Stadium is where Michigan’s undefeated season was snapped, and thus the Big Ten race was turned upside down. A Michigan loss last season in November allowed Penn State an improbable chance to win the Big Ten that was taken advantage of with a win against Michigan State and Ohio State handing Michigan a second loss. Penn State advanced to the Big Ten championship thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Buckeyes, and Penn State captured the Big Ten crown with a win against Wisconsin. They have Iowa to thank for that.
Of course, a night game in Kinnick Stadium for a top 10 Penn State team carries some dread for many Penn State fans. In 2008, the undefeated and No. 3 Nittany Lions were upset in a night game at Kinnick Stadium, 24-23, thus essentially eliminating Penn State from the BCS national championship race (which later came down to Oklahoma and Florida). An undefeated Penn State out of the Big Ten would have been a lock to appear in the BCS national championship game against SEC champion Florida. Instead, they went to the Rose Bowl and played and lost to a pretty hot USC team.
That sounds familiar.
Penn State and Iowa did play at night in Kinnick Stadium in 2012 and that went considerably better for Penn State, as did last year’s night game in Happy Valley.
This will be Penn State’s second straight primetime game after hosting Georgia State for a night game at Beaver Stadium this week on Big Ten Network. There is a good chance Penn State’s October 21 home game against Michigan will get primetime treatment too, but as of now there is no decision made on that game. Penn State’s road game at Ohio State on October 28 is already locked in for a 3:30 pm ET kickoff on FOX (thanks to the World Series). Iowa does not have any other primetime games currently scheduled this season.