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Turnover-prone PSU gets clobbered by Iowa, 41-21, to drop to 0-5

Photo by Penn State Athletics: Will Levis

UNIVERSITY PARK — Penn State’s historically bad season got even worse, both on the field Saturday and when James Franklin delivered more bad news after the game.

The Nittany Lions dropped to 0-5 for the first time EVER with a 41-21 loss to Iowa at Beaver Stadium. Penn State committed four turnovers that led to 24 points for the Hawkeyes.

Penn State switched quarterbacks and led 7-3 early, only to see Iowa run off 28 unanswered points to take control up 31-7.

Will Levis started at QB instead of Sean Clifford, who has had turnover problems, and Levis led the offense to an early touchdown as he ran seven times for 44 yards on one scoring drive.

But Iowa just proved to be too tough on both sides of the ball, running and throwing well on offense and getting enough stops on defense.

James Franklin went back to Clifford at QB down 31-7, and he responded with a 28-yard TD pass on his first throw. When PSU got the ball back again, Clifford threw a 62-yard TD strike to Jahan Dotson on his second pass of the game.

After 2-point conversion, Penn State was right back in it down 31-21 early in the fourth quarter.

But turnovers bit the Lions again, as Clifford threw an interception in his own territory that led to an Iowa field goal. Later, Clifford was picked off by Daviyon Nixon, who returned it 71 yards for a score.

Levis was 13-of-16 for 106 yards and ran for 34 yards on 15 carries (sacks included).

Clifford was 13-of-22 for 174 yards with two TDs and two INTs.

After the game, Franklin broke the news that All-American tight end Pat Freiermuth will miss the rest of the season. Freiermuth, a projected first-round NFL draft pick, suffered an injury in week two against Ohio State but played through it for two more games. He did not dress Saturday, and his PSU career is now over.

Update: 6:50 p.m.

Iowa 41, Penn State 21: Sean Clifford threw a terrible interception right to Daviyon Nixon, who avoided a poor tackle attempt by Clifford and returned it 71 yards for a touchdown with 1:58 to play.

Even Micah Parsons chimed in after that crazy play.

Iowa 34, Penn State 21: Clifford had a pass tipped and intercepted by Chauncey Goltson in PSU territory. The defense held and forced Iowa to kick a 24-yard field goal.

Update: 6:15 p.m.

Iowa 31, Penn State 21: On the Lions’ next series, Clifford did a pump fake and threw a beautiful deep ball to Jahan Dotson for a 68-yard TD with 7 seconds left in the third. Clifford hit Keyvone Lee for the 2-point conversion.

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Iowa 31, Penn 13: Lamont Wade recovered a fumble in Iowa territory, and James Franklin made the QB switch. Sean Clifford’s first pass went to a wide-open Brenton Strange for a 28-yard TD.

Iowa 31, Penn State 7: The Hawkeyes recovered a fumble near midfield and drove it down for a TD and 24-point lead. Spencer Petras scored on a 3-yard keeper with 6:45 left in the third.

Update: 5:15 p.m.

Iowa 24, Penn State 7: Iowa held PSU on fourth-and-2 at the 49 to take possession, then drove down for a TD in the closing seconds of the first half. Mekhi Sargent scored from a yard out with 11 seconds left for a 17-point halftime lead.

Update: 4:42 p.m.

Iowa 17, Penn State 7: Iowa recovered a fumble at the PSU 41, then got a 26-yard pass from Spencer Petras to Nico Ragaini to the 15, converting a second-and-20. Mekhi Sargent later scored from a yard out with 6:34 left in the half.

Iowa 10, Penn State 7: The Hawkeyes got two big pass plays and then a 28-yard run by Mekhi Sargent to the PSU 5. After a penalty, Tyler Goodson scored from 10 yards out with 14:35 left in the half.

Update: 4:10 p.m.

Penn State 7, Iowa 3: Will Levis ran for 44 yards on seven carries on one drive, moving the Lions down the field. Keyvone Lee scored from 6 yards out, giving PSU its first lead since the opener at Indiana, when the Lions scored a TD in overtime before losing.

Iowa 3, Penn State 0: Iowa took the ball on its first possession and moved right down the field, with the help of a big third-and-8 throw from Spencer Petras for 16 yards. Tyler Goodson ran for 25 yards to the PSU 24, but the Lions’ defense held after that to force a 40-yard field goal from Keith Duncan.

Update: 3:40 p.m.

As expected, Will Levis started at QB for Penn State instead of Sean Clifford.

Also, TE Pat Freiermuth is not in uniform and will not play today. Backup TE Zach Kuntz also is out.

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Cory Giger is a 15-year veteran of the Penn State beat and a journalist with 28 years of experience. He has won more than 100 state and national journalism awards during his career, plus he's a voter for the Heisman Trophy in football and Wooden Award in basketball.

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