Penn State avoided a season-altering upset from Iowa as quarterback Trace McSorley fired an absolute dime to Juwan Johnson to seal a 21-19 victory as the clock struck zero.
“It was clearly going to be the last play of the game,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “We felt like, with Juwan, we had a height advantage and could kind of slip him through the middle of the field.”
“At that moment, the worst thing you can have is a lot of people talking. So we want to be calm and poised in those situations.”
Iowa running back Akrum Wadley scored a 30-yard touchdown with 1:42 to go. McSorley countered that with a 12 play 80-yard drive with just over a minute and a half to go.
While the play of McSorley cannot be overlooked, the difference maker in this game was Heisman favorite Saquon Barkley. Barkley finished with 305 total yards on 40 touches.
One of the parts that is overlooked about this final drive is the absence, or changed roles, of Barkley. The final two plays, where Penn State had to score in order to take the lead, Barkley was used as a blocker and a decoy which allowed Penn State secure the victory.
This win was nothing short of crucial for the Nittany Lions. Winning would allow them to drop a game to say Michigan or Ohio State who they play in back to back weeks next month and still be in a contender for the college football playoff.
As for right now, Penn State deserves to be No. 2 in the country. They have been the only team in the top four outside of Alabama to dominate where they should dominate and win on the road over a very talented opponent.
No. 3 Oklahoma stumbled yesterday against Baylor while No. 2 Clemson did the same against Boston college.
Both teams have proven that they are capable of being a top four team in the country. Now, however, Penn State has proven the most and deserves to move up in the rankings.