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No. 17 Penn State finds a way to win a close one at home by holding off No. 18 Iowa

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No. 17 Penn State (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) lost their last two games at home despite having a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter. As Penn State took a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter against No. 18 Iowa (6-2, 3-2 Big Ten) in Beaver Stadium on Saturday, the Nittany Lions once again had to avoid a fourth-quarter collapse to get a win. Perhaps the third time was the charm for Penn State.

Penn State held on for a 30-24 win, holding Iowa off the scoreboard on their final two possessions of the game, including the last possession of the game as the clock expired.

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley left the game for a couple of possessions in the second quarter with an apparent leg injury, but he returned in the second quarter for a quick series and was back for the remainder of the game after halftime. A 51-yard touchdown run by McSorley early in the third quarter let everyone know he was feeling just fine.

Tommy Stevens filled in for McSorley in his absence and scored a game-tying touchdown for the Nittany Lions in a messy first half immediately following a big interception return by John Reid.

It was quite a messy first half of football too. Iowa scored 17 points in the most Iowa way imaginable; two safeties as Penn State sailed snaps over the punter’s head, two field goals, and a touchdown thrown by a punter to a defensive lineman on a fake field goal. Iowa also had some luck with fumbles with three forced fumbles by Penn State all recovered by the Hawkeyes. Penn State’s defense did a good job of not letting Iowa do much on offense, but the Hawkeyes finally got tight end Noah Fant involved in the fourth quarter after never finding a way to get him open before that.

As Fant settled in and Nate Stanley got a bit more comfortable, Iowa applied pressure on Penn State with a chance to grab the lead. But confusion at the line of scrimmage with Stanley and Fant led to an interception just outside the goal line with Iowa trailing by six. Penn State was unable to wrap up the game even though Iowa ran out of timeouts on the ensuing possession, but the Hawkeyes had one more chance. It appeared Iowa could have moved into Penn State territory in the final minute, but a catch on the field was overturned by video review.

Penn State will be on the road next week against Michigan. The Wolverines have not lost since their season-opening loss at Notre Dame and Michigan is the only unbeaten team left within Big Ten play, putting them in first place in the Big Ten East. The home team has won in blowout fashion each of the last two years in this series, and Penn State will have a lot to clean up if they are going to avoid allowing that trend to continue.

Iowa falls into a three-way tie for second place in the Big Ten West with Wisconsin and Purdue. All three lost on Saturday, and Northwestern now sits alone atop the Big Ten West Division after their home win against the Badgers. But Iowa still has the opportunity to seize some control of the division’s fate with their next two games. Iowa visits Purdue next week and then hosts Northwestern. If Iowa can win each of those two games and avoid a head-to-head tie with Wisconsin at the end of the season, they will play for the Big Ten championship. In short, the next few weeks in the Big Ten West should be very interesting.

Late TD pushes No. 18 Wisconsin past upset-minded Iowa

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Iowa has a proud history of knocking off ranked teams in night games at Kinnick Stadium, and No. 18 Wisconsin’s visit on Saturday had a chance to be another, but a number of crucial mistakes and clutch plays by the Badgers allowed the visitors to escape with a 28-17 win.

In a game without many scoring opportunities, Iowa’s list of mistakes started when Kirk Ferentz made a very un-Ferentz like decision and it immediately came back to bite him.

After forcing a Wisconsin punt to open the game, Iowa marched from its own 15 to the Wisconsin 12 when Nate Stanley hit running back Ivory Kelly-Martin for a 7-yard completion on 3rd-and-8, taking the ball to the Badgers’ 5, setting up a 4th-and-1. The Iowa offense hurried to the line, but a pair of false starts by Iowa’s guards were wiped out when the replay official stopped play to review the spot. Given the chance to think it over, Ferentz chose to go for it again, and Stanley’s sneak was stuffed.

Wisconsin immediately took advantage, moving 95 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 6-yard Alex Hornibrook pass to Jake Ferguson at the 14:31 mark of the second quarter.

The teams traded punts on their next possessions and Iowa seemed primed to punt again when Stanley loaded up to throw on a 3rd-and-9 from his own 34, but his rainbow found T.J. Hockenson for a 46-yard gain, which he hauled in despite defensive pass interference on the play. Stanley put Iowa on the board with a 20-yard scoring strike to Noah Fant on the next play, evening the game at the 5:15 mark of the first half.

Iowa forced another Wisconsin punt on the ensuing possession, but the Hawkeyes’ momentum was wiped out when Kyle Groeneweg‘s 23-yard punt return to midfield ended in a fumble forced and recovered by Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon.

Still, Iowa’s defense forced another punt, and the Hawkeyes expired the final minute to send the game to the half.

Iowa accepted the ball to open the second half and notched a 24-yard Miguel Recinos field goal to take its first lead of the game and forced another Wisconsin punt, but another special teams disaster cost the Hawkeyes a chance to take control of the game. As Anthony Lotti‘s punt spun to a stop on the Kinnick Stadium turf, an unaware Shaun Breyer touched the ball with his foot at his own 10-yard line, and Wisconsin’s Travian Blaylock hopped on the loose ball.

Three plays later, Hornibrook hit Danny Davis III to put Wisconsin back on top, 14-10.

Iowa answered immediately, moving 75 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 1-yard toss from Stanley to Fant at the 1:37 mark of the third quarter.

The score remained at 17-14 when Wisconsin took over at its own 12 with 5:40 remaining, and the Badgers consumed 4:43 of the available clock, taking a 21-17 lead on a 17-yard pass to A.J. Taylor with 57 seconds to play.

Needing a touchdown to win the game, Iowa (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) took over at its own 24, but Stanley was intercepted by T.J. Edwards, and Alec Ingold scored the capper on a 33-yard rush with 22 ticks to play.

Hornibrook was the star of the game, hitting 17-of-22 passes for 205 yards with three touchdowns and no picks, while Jonathan Taylor rushed 25 times for 113 yards.

Wisconsin (3-1, 1-0 Big Ten) successfully bounced back from last week’s loss to BYU and won in Iowa City for the fifth straight time. Overall, Wisconsin has won six of the past seven Heartland Trophy meetings, and the winner of the Heartland Trophy game has gone on to win the Big Ten West in each of the past four seasons.

Iowa and Wisconsin staging an old fashioned B1G slobberknocker

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Through one half in Iowa City, Iowa and No. 18 Wisconsin are knotted in a 7-7 tie.

In a game without many scoring opportunities, Kirk Ferentz made a very un-Ferentz like decision and it immediately came back to bite him.

After forcing a Wisconsin punt to open the game, Iowa marched from its own 15 to the Wisconsin 12 when Nate Stanley hit running back Ivory Kelly-Martin for a 7-yard completion on 3rd-and-8, taking the ball to the Badgers’ 5, setting up a 4th-and-1. The Iowa offense hurried to the line, but a pair of false starts by Iowa’s guards were wiped out when the replay official stopped play to review the spot. Given the chance to think it over, Ferentz chose to go for it again, and Stanley’s sneak was stuffed.

Wisconsin immediately took advantage, moving 95 yards in 11 plays, scoring on a 6-yard Alex Hornibrook pass to Jake Ferguson at the 14:31 mark of the second quarter.

The teams traded punts on their next possessions and Iowa seemed primed to punt again when Stanley loaded up to throw on a 3rd-and-9 from his own 34, but his rainbow found T.J. Hockenson for a 46-yard gain, which he hauled in despite defensive pass interference on the play. Stanley put Iowa on the board with a 20-yard scoring strike to Noah Fant on the next play, evening the game at the 5:15 mark of the first half.

Iowa forced another Wisconsin punt on the ensuing possession, but the Hawkeyes’ momentum was wiped out when Kyle Groeneweg‘s 23-yard punt return to midfield ended in a fumble forced and recovered by Wisconsin’s D’Cota Dixon.

Still, Iowa’s defense forced another punt, and the Hawkeyes expired the final minute to send the game to the half.

Bryce Love, Ed Oliver headline Walter Camp Award preseason watch list

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What is arguably the second-most prestigious award in college football has officially joined in on the watch listing fun.

The Walter Camp Foundation became the last (?) of the major awards to release its preseason watch list, with a total of 50 individuals making the cut as the players to watch for its 2018 Player of the Year Award.  Headling that half-century group is a pair of 2017 Camp All-Americans — Stanford running back Bryce Love and Houston defensive tackle Ed Oliver.

All FBS conferences are represented, led by nine each for both the Big Ten and ACC.  The ACC (eight) and Big 12 (seven) are next, followed by the Pac-12 (five), AAC (four), Conference USA (three), MAC (one), Mountain West (one) and Sun Belt (one).  Two football independents, Army and Notre Dame, made the initial cut as well.

A total of nine schools placed two players each on the watch list: Alabama, Clemson, Miami, Michigan, Ohio State, TCU, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Of the 50 watch listers, 38 come from the offensive side of the ball.  The breakdown of that group goes 17 quarterbacks, 15 running backs, five wide receivers and one tight end.  An even dozen are, obviously, defensive players — seven defensive linemen, three linebackers, two defensive backs.

Breaking down the group by classes, there are 17 seniors, 25 juniors and eight sophomores.

Cam Akers, RB, Sophomore, Florida State
Darius Anderson, RB, Junior, TCU
Rodney Anderson, RB, Junior, Oklahoma
Ben Banogu, DE, Sophomore, TCU
Nick Bosa, DL, Junior, Ohio State #
Spencer Brown, RB, Sophomore, UAB
Jake Bentley, QB, Junior, University of South Carolina
A.J. Brown, WR, Junior, Ole Miss
Jake Browning, QB, Senior, Washington
Devin Bush, LB, Junior, Michigan #
Raekwon Davis, DL, Junior, Alabama
AJ Dillon, RB, Sophomore, Boston College
J.K. Dobbins, RB, Sophomore, Ohio State
T.J. Edwards, LB, Senior, Wisconsin #
Noah Fant, TE, Junior, Iowa
Mason Fine, QB, Junior, North Texas
Ryan Finley, QB, Senior, North Carolina State
Rashan Gary, DE, Junior, Michigan
Myles Gaskin, RB, Senior, Washington
Joe Gilles-Harris, LB, Junior, Duke #
Will Grier, QB, Senior, West Virginia
Justice Hansen, QB, Senior, Arkansas State
Damien Harris, RB, Senior, Alabama
Darrell Henderson, RB, Junior Memphis
Justice Hill, RB, Sophomore, Oklahoma State
Collin Johnson, WR, Junior, Texas
Diontae Johnson, WR, Junior, Toledo
Jaquan Johnson, DB, Senior, Miami (Fla.)
Dexter Lawrence, DL, Junior, Clemson
Brian Lewerke, QB, Junior, Michigan State
Drew Lock, QB, Senior, Missouri
Bryce Love, RB, Senior, Stanford *
Trace McSorley, QB, Senior, Penn State
McKenzie Milton, QB, Junior, UCF
Steven Montez, QB, Junior, Colorado
Ed Oliver, DL, Junior, Houston *
Malcolm Perry, QB, Junior, Navy
Ahmmon Richards, WR, Junior, Miami (Fla.)
Brett Rypien, QB, Senior, Boise State
Kyle Shurmur, QB, Senior, Vanderbilt
David Sills, WR, Senior, West Virginia #
Devin Singletary, RB, Junior, Florida Atlantic
Benny Snell, RB, Junior, Kentucky
Jarrett Stidham, QB, Junior, Auburn
Khalil Tate, QB, Junior, Arizona
Jonathan Taylor, RB, Sophomore, Wisconsin #
Christian Wilkins, DL, Senior, Clemson #
Greedy Williams, DB, Sophomore, LSU
Brandon Wimbush, QB, Senior, University of Notre Dame
Darnell Woolfolk, RB, Senior, Army-West Point

* 2017 Walter Camp All-America First-Team selection
# – 2017 Walter Camp All-America Second-Team selection

Big Ten releases list of preseason honors

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As the Big Ten gets set to begin their media day fun in Chicago, the conference assembled a panel of media members to come up with a list of 10 players to receive preseason recognition. Five players from each division were named to this year’s mini-watch list of Big Ten players, with Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley the lone player designated as a unanimous selection.

Ohio State is represented on the list by two players in the East Division with sophomore running back J.K. Dobbins and junior defensive end Nick Bosa each being recognized by the panel. Bosa was last year’s defensive lineman of the year in the Big Ten despite not being a full-time starter. Michigan defensive lineman Rashan Gary and Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke were also honored in addition to McSorley of Penn State.

The West Division representatives is highlighted by last season’s freshman of the year in the Big Ten, Wisconsin running back Jonathan Taylor. The Badgers also are represented by linebacker T.J. Edwards. Northwestern linebacker Paddy Fischer, Nebraska wide receiver Stanley Morgan Jr. and Iowa tight end Noah Fant also made up the West Division representatives.

Some names that stand out as possible omissions include Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson and Northwestern quarterback Clayton Thorson, but it may be difficult to argue against the names appearing on this preseason list.