No. 4 Penn State 21, Iowa 19: Nittany Lions beat Hawkeyes with last-second, game-winning TD

Matthew Bain
Hawk Central

IOWA CITY, Ia. — There's just something about night games at Kinnick Stadium. 

Iowa's Amani Hooker tackles Penn State's Saquon Barkley during their game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017.

Iowa's contest against No. 4 Penn State was just as thrilling as its last-second field-goal win versus No. 3 Michigan last year.

The only difference? The Hawkeyes didn't win this one with a field goal. Instead, it lost, 21-19, in heartbreaking fashion, with Trace McSorley's 7-yard, game-winning touchdown pass to Juwan Johnson.

RELATED: Cell phone flashlights made the Hawkeye Wave even cooler vs. PSU

Nate Stanley finished 13-for-22 for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Akrum Wadley accounted for 155 total yards and two touchdowns. Josey Jewell led the defense with 16 tackles, three tackles for loss and an interception. 

Here's what we learned Saturday night:

Saquon Barkley is as good (even better?) than advertised. Penn State's running back touched the ball 40 times for 305 combined rushing and receiving yards; 192 of those yards came in the second half, when Penn State finally gave him the ball more consistently and he danced through/bulldozed over what's proving to be a very strong Hawkeye defense. One play, in particular, stands out: On a third-and-6 midway through the fourth, Barkley hurdled Josh Jackson, got hit midair by Amani Hooker, landed on his feet and secured the first down.

MORE: Hawkeye D broken at buzzer, Easley emerges, Jewell swings like McSorley

Iowa's defense is dominant enough to keep the Hawkeyes in games. Think about it: Penn State outgained Iowa, 579-273; outpossessed Iowa, 39 minutes, 39 seconds to 20 minutes, 21 seconds; and ran 99 plays compared to Iowa's 45 and still only won by 2 points. How is that even possible? 

LEISTKOW: Valiant Hawkeye effort, but last-second Penn St. loss will really sting

Akrum Wadley is a bona-fide playmaker. You want some second-half energy? Just give it to Wadley. The senior with as much personality as talent made probably the two biggest offensive plays of the game for Iowa. (There weren't many to choose from.) He split Penn State's safeties and ran untouched 35 yards for a touchdown with 1:42 left. And at the start of the fourth quarter, his 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown jolted the Hawkeyes back into the game. 

ANALYSIS: Iowa's offense shows promise, but it comes too late

Anthony Nelson. That is all. The dude stepped up Saturday night. He had five total tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, two pass break-ups, a quarterback hit and a field-goal block that nearly sealed the win for Iowa. The sophomore Urbandale native got a hand on Penn State's 31-yard field-goal attempt with 2:42 left. The three points would have put the Nittany Lions up 18-13. Instead, four plays later, Wadley scored what at the time looked like the game-winning touchdown.

Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.