Iowa-Penn State is a night game; latest depth chart released

Chad Leistikow
Hawk Central

For the third straight year, Kinnick Stadium will host a September night game.

Iowa vs. Penn State on Sept. 23 will kick off at 6:30 p.m. and be televised on ABC, it was announced Monday.

The Nittany Lions, currently ranked fifth in the Amway Coaches Poll and the defending Big Ten Conference champions, could be coming into a tricky environment after pasting the Hawkeyes, 41-14, a year ago in State College, Pa.

Ben Niemann (44), Miles Taylor (19) and the Iowa defense had a nightmarish performance last year at Saquon Barkley-led Penn State. The Hawkeyes yielded 599 yards in a 41-14 defeat. The teams square off again Sept. 23 at Kinnick Stadium.

In the last two seasons, Iowa has hosted four night games — and each resulted in memorable Hawkeye victories:

Sept. 19, 2015: Marshall Koehn’s improbable 57-yard field goal as time expired delivered a 27-24 win against Pittsburgh in Kinnick’s first night game in three seasons.

Nov. 14, 2015: Iowa broke out “Blackout” alternative jerseys and dispatched rival Minnesota, 40-35, to achieve the program’s first-ever 10-0 start to a season.

Sept. 10, 2016: The Hawkeyes routed their in-state rivals on a feel-good night; the 42-3 bludgeoning of Iowa State remains Kirk Ferentz’s most lopsided of 10 Cy-Hawk victories.

Nov. 12, 2016: Who could forget this one? Keith Duncan’s 33-yard field goal as time expired gave the 24-point-underdog Hawkeyes a 14-13 win against third-ranked, unbeaten Michigan.

As of Monday morning, Iowa had sold 64,433 tickets for the Big Ten opener for both teams, meaning about 6,000 were available after Penn State returned 400-plus of its allotment. Look for those $95 seats to go fast now that the game time is set.

This will mark Penn State’s fourth night game in Kinnick in the last decade. The 2008 Hawkeyes ruined the Nittany Lions’ unbeaten season on Daniel Murray’s 31-yard field goal with 1 second left. Iowa thumped Penn State, 24-3, in 2010. And then in 2012, it was Penn State’s turn to lay the lumber in a 38-14 win that wasn’t even that close.

In fact, this will mark the sixth time in seven meetings, dating back to 2008, that the teams have squared off at night.

Depth-chart Monday

The prognosis doesn’t seem good for Ike Boettger, two days after the right tackle suffered what appeared to be a serious injury to the Achilles tendon in his right leg.

Iowa’s depth chart, released Monday in advance of Saturday’s game vs. North Texas (2:30 p.m., ESPN2), had Sean Welsh as the new starting right tackle.

Welsh and left tackle Alaric Jackson are the only Hawkeye linemen to take every offensive snap. For now, Iowa lists Ross Reynolds as the starting left guard, with James Daniels at center and Keegan Render at right guard.

Iowa completed Saturday’s game at Iowa State with Boone Myers, who has been hobbled, at left guard and Render at right. Myers, a fifth-year senior with 22 career starts, was listed as the backup left tackle and backup left guard Monday.

“(Welsh) will probably be at tackle; Alaric Jackson at the other tackle, and then we’ll fill it in from there,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said during his weekly Sunday interview with the university. “The good news is Boone Myers is gaining some strength and getting to where we thought he’d be. So we expect him to be playing some left guard.”

Staying on offense, rookie receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette (who had four catches for 36 yards and two touchdowns at Iowa State) has jumped onto the two-deep for the first time, as Nick Easley's backup. Receivers Devonte Young and Matt Quarells are no longer listed.

Defensively, there are no depth-chart changes from last week. Manny Rugamba remains listed as the starting right cornerback, even though he was benched in favor of Michael Ojemudia in the second quarter and mostly was limited to third-down situations after that.