No. 10 Penn State holds off No. 17 Iowa 17-12

Penn State defensive tackle Robert Windsor, center, sacks Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)The Associated Press
Penn State defensive tackle Robert Windsor, center, sacks Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, in Iowa City, Iowa. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

Noah Cain ran for a five-yard touchdown with 5:17 left and 10th-ranked Penn State held off No. 17 Iowa 17-12 on Saturday night, its first win over a ranked opponent this season.

Cain finished with 102 yards for the Nittany Lions (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten), who extended their winning streak over the Hawkeyes (4-2, 1-2) to six games.

A matchup between two of the nation's top defenses turned when Iowa's Nate Stanley threw an interception near midfield with 9:22 remaining. Penn State drove 35 yards on a gassed Iowa defense, and the last of three straight runs by Cain made it 17-6.

Iowa pulled within 17-12 when Stanley found Brandon Smith for a 33-yard TD pass with 2:31 to go. The Hawkeyes' two-point try failed though, and Cain converted a crucial third down that ensured that Iowa never saw the ball again.

Up 7-6 late in the third quarter, Penn State recovered a fumble at Iowa's 16 and Sean Clifford connected on an apparent touchdown pass to Pat Freiermuth that was overturned on review. Iowa then held the Nittany Lions at the 1-foot line, and two straight holding calls forced them to settle for a 33-yard field goal.

KJ Hamler caught seven passes, including a 22-yarder for a TD, for Penn State.

Stanley threw for 286 yards, but the Hawkeyes ran for just 70 yards on 30 attempts.

THE TAKEAWAY

Penn State: The Nittany Lions survived their toughest road challenge outside of a trip to Ohio State on Nov. 23. Penn State was on the road against a talented team with a jacked-up crowd, and yet the Nittany Lions were the ones making the plays that made the difference.

Iowa: The Hawkeyes nearly went back-to-back games without a touchdown. Granted, Michigan and Penn State are really good on defense. But Iowa can't continue to lean on its own defense to keep it in games. At 1-2 in the league and with Wisconsin looking like one of the best teams in America, the Big Ten West doesn't look so winnable anymore.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Penn State might move up a few spots. Iowa might struggle to hang onto its spot in the Top 25 after back-to-back losses.

UP NEXT

Penn State hosts Michigan on Oct. 19.

Iowa hosts Purdue next Saturday.

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