The last time Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz brought his team into Happy Valley for a night game at Penn State, Drew Allar was in the seventh grade.
The night didn’t go well for Iowa.
Penn State won 41-14 and ended up winning its most recent Big Ten championship.
Penn State’s quarterback in that game was Trace McSorley.
McSorley is one of the most popular players in Penn State history, and although he played well against Iowa in 2016– 11-for-18 passing, 240 yards and two touchdowns plus 40 rushing yards and a score on 14 carries– his biggest heroics against the Hawkeyes would come the next season.
Before a rowdy Kinnick Stadium, McSorley silenced the home crowd with a walk-off touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson.
Now, Penn State’s in its fifth season of the post-McSorley era.
McSorley is back on campus and, along with former teammate Grant Haley, will be an honorary captain for Saturday’s game, and they’ll be watching a quarterback that could be the best in Penn State history than the time it’s over.
Penn State and its fans want badly for Drew Allar to live up to his five-star potential.
Although Ferentz doesn’t want that– at least not Saturday night– he acknowledged how good Allar already is and can be.
“(Penn State had) a really good quarterback,” Ferentz said, “but they have a guy that might be better right now.”
It’s not 100% clear which quarterback Ferentz was referring to, but in any case, it seems that everybody is impressed by Allar.
But what is it about Allar that impresses Ferentz?
“Composure,” Ferentz said. “I mean, he’s very talented. He’s a big guy, he can run and throw, but he just seems really relaxed and in command and very composed back there.
Ferentz then mentioned Allar’s unplanned college debut as a true freshman last season.
“He got extensive playing time in the opening game a year ago,” Ferentz said. “It was the first game in the Big Ten last year at Purdue on a Thursday night. He played a lot and really did a good job, so it didn’t look like he was out of place at all, and now he has the keys to the car, so he’s doing a really good job with it.”
Saying Allar played “a lot” might be a bit of an exaggeration. He was in the game for six plays, briefly reliving Sean Clifford on Penn State’s first drive of the second half. But Allar will play a lot Saturday, and if Iowa can’t contain him, it could be as ugly or worse than 2016 for the visitors.