This week the members of the Blue White Roundtable gather to discuss Penn State's next opponent, the Iowa Hawkeyes. Times have been tough for the Nittany Lions in Iowa, but will a new coach lead Penn State to a revitalized approach in Iowa and return home with a win for the first time since 1999?
We discuss that and more. As usual, check out Black Shoe Diaries later for a full round-up to see what the rest of the group has to say.
1. How will the week off affect the Lions this week against Iowa? Do you have any concerns about the team getting off to a slow start?
This, to me, is one of the unknowns about this season as far as Bill O'Brien and the new coaching staff is concerned. How do they handle a bye week? More importantly, how to they handle a bye week at a time when the team is on a roll?
Fortunately for Penn State, they have a coach in O'Brien who was part of a New England Patriots staff that went 6-2 following a bye week while he was with the team. If O'Brien has learned any lessons from his time in New England, that one could be key. O'Brien's mentality, much like the senior leadership, has been to embrace each game individually, so I do not believe the bye week will be much of a deterrent this week.
2. Iowa's offense centers around former walk-on fullback Mark Weisman, who has rushed for at least 100 yards in four straight games after injuries pressed him into service. Weisman is a power back in the mold of Penn State's own Zack Zwinak and Michael Zordich. He's a very different runner than any other tailback we've dealt with this year. What should the defense do to slow him down?
The first question is whether or not Weisman will actually be playing this weekend. Not being listed on the depth chart suggests he may not play, but then again Kirk Ferentz is a gamer. If he does play, and is close enough to full strength, then Penn State's defensive line will be physically tested like never before seen this season. I think Penn State's defense still can be counted on to slow down a power running game if on top of their game, but it should be a concern on short down attempts because Penn State does struggle to get off the field at times against an offense that brings that philosophy to the field.
It sounds generic but the only way t slow him down is to plug the holes on the line by bringing the linebackers in and hope Weisman can't break through. If he does plow through, the secondary will really struggle to bring him down and some serious damage could be done.
3. Both teams come into this game at 4-2, with losses to two teams who are mediocre at best. How similar are these teams at this point? Would a win this weekend put Penn State in a position to be ranked in the AP Top 25?
Maybe it is just me, or I have not seen enough of Iowa, but I am not so sure they are all that similar. Every chance I have had to watch Iowa this season I have been far from impressed, from games against Iowa State and Central Michigan and last weekend's game at Michigan State. Iowa's offense is based on the power running game and Penn State is trying to open things up a little bit. Their defenses may be similar, but I think we have two different teams going at it Saturday.
I think if Penn State can return home with a decent victory, rather than a tough and potentially ugly 17-14 game, Penn State might pick up some respect in the AP Top 25, but I also have a feeling Penn State needs to do a lot more before gaining enough respect to crack the Top 25.
It's been a long time coming since Penn State last won in Iowa in 1999, but I think there is more than a decent chance that streak is snapped this weekend. I know Iowa is a slight favorite this weekend but I think it is easy money picking Penn State this week.
Penn State 23, Iowa 17