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‘I Think This Game is Going to Come Down to …’: ‘GameDay’ Crew Breaks Down Penn State-Iowa

Beaver Stadium
Beaver Stadium | Photo from Penn State Athletics

ESPN College GameDay panelist Pat McAfee still isn’t sure how to say Penn State QB Drew Allar’s last name. 

He’s not sure if it’s pronounced “Al-er” or “A-Lar.”

“I don’t want to get it wrong,” McAfee said, “because I think he’s a hell of a football player.”

It’s pronounced “Al-er,” and yes, the former five-star recruit from Medina, Ohio has seemingly unlimited potential. 

But for McAfee and others, the key to Penn State’s game will be sophomore running backs Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen.

“It’s not just them, though,” McAfee said. “It’s also the offensive line being in-sync and the wide receivers blocking for the running backs. Kaytron Allen, Nicholas Singleton, these guys are roommates. Love each other. Sophomores. Came in and took the world over.”

McAfee also feels Penn State’s offensive line, tight ends and even receivers blocking will be key in running the ball.”

But McAfee is also high on Iowa’s defense and 12th-year defensive coordinator Phil Parker. 

“They have great discipline,” McAfee said. 

Kirk Herbstreit further broke down Parker’s defense. 

“Phil Parker, his whole mantra is ‘let’s not give up the explosives,'” Herbstreit said. “So I know he’s going to respect Drew Allar and this passing game. So it’s going to be more about patience, and that’s where Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton are going to have to go off. They’re going to have to win the line of scrimmage.”

Herbstreit added that he sees this as a “low-scoring game,” but…

“I think Penn State wins it because they’re at home,” he said. 

Penn State is favored by 14.5 points against Iowa, so many feel that the game won’t be close. 

GameDay analyst Desmond Howard doesn’t seem to be one of them. 

On today’s episode, live from South Bend, Indiana ahead of the Notre Dame-Ohio State game, which is scheduled to kickoff at the same time as Penn State-Iowa, Howard described Penn State-Iowa as a ” very interesting game.”

“Penn State’s offense so far, they’ve been rolling,” Howard said. “But now they’re going up against a different type of defense. Iowa’s a very opportunistic defense, very fundamentally sound. They wait for the offense to make a mistake.”

Through three games—all Iowa wins—Parker’s unit has given up a total of 37 points. 

For Penn State, coordinator Mike Yurcich’s offense has scored 30 or more points in nine straight games, which is the longest active streak in the country. 

For Howard, there’s one particular area of the field where the winner and loser of tonight’s game will be determined.  

“I think this game is going to come down to the red zone,” Howard said. “Iowa’s defense is really good in the red zone. They’ve given up two touchdowns and two field goals so far this season. And Penn State’s offense—14 touchdowns and two field goals in the red zone. They will move the ball against Iowa’s ‘bend but don’t break’ defense, but will they score in the red zone.”

The latest of Penn State’s two red zone trips that ended without a touchdown took place last week at Illinois, when it drove to the Illinois 2-yard line before stalling and settling for a field goal. Penn State will look for a better result in those situations today. 

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