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Geno Stone breaks down how to defend QB Sean Clifford and Penn State's offense. Dargan Southard, msouthard@gannett.com

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Whether in daytime or prime time, the Iowa Hawkeyes are finding themselves in the spotlight.

The first go-round on the big stage didn't go so well, with Iowa's offense stymied from the start in a 10-3 loss to Michigan that was simply painful on the eyes.

Iowa fans are more hopeful that a nighttime showdown with ninth-ranked Penn State will be much more pleasant viewing, from the all-gold uniforms in use to the play on the field.

The 18th-ranked Hawkeyes will be suddenly backed against the wall as far as their Big Ten West title hopes are concerned if they tumble to the Nittany Lions for the sixth straight time. A second league defeat will all but require Iowa to win out in their final six games to have a hope of heading to Indianapolis.

So ... no pressure, right? The 6:44 p.m. kickoff on ABC has all the drama you need.

Here are the projected starters for the Kinnick Stadium clash:

OFFENSE

Quarterback: No. 4, Nate Stanley (6-foot-4, 243 pounds, senior)

Running back: No. 10, Mekhi Sargent (5-11, 223, junior)

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Tight end: No. 39, Nate Wieting (6-4, 250, sr.)

Fullback: No. 36, Brady Ross (6-0, 246, sr.)

Wide receiver: No. 12, Brandon Smith (6-2, 218, jr.)

Wide receiver: No. 6, Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6-1, 183, jr.)

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Left tackle: No. 77, Alaric Jackson (6-6, 320, jr.)

Left guard: No. 68, Landan Paulsen (6-5, 305, sr.)

Center: No. 65, Tyler Linderbaum (6-3, 286, freshman)

Right guard: No. 61, Cole Banwart (6-4, 300, jr.)

Right tackle: No. 74, Tristan Wirfs (6-5, 322, jr.)

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DEFENSE

Defensive end: No. 57, Chauncey Golston (6-5, 270, jr.)

Defensive end: No. 94, A.J. Epenesa (6-6, 280, jr.)

Defensive tackle: No. 95, Cedrick Lattimore (6-3, 295, sr.) 

Defensive tackle: No. 74, Austin Schulte (6-4, 287, jr.)

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Weak-side linebacker: No. 32, Djimon Colbert (6-1, 235, sophomore)

Middle linebacker: No. 34, Kristian Welch (6-3, 239, sr.)

Leo/Cash: No. 49, Nick Niemann (6-4, 235, jr.) 

Strong safety: No. 9, Geno Stone (5-10, 210, jr.)

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Free safety: No. 28, Jack Koerner (6-0, 204, soph.)

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Cornerback: No. 11, Michael Ojemudia (6-1, 200, sr.)

Cornerback: No. 12, D.J. Johnson (5-11, 183, fr.)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: No. 10, Caleb Shudak (5-8, 180, jr.) OR No. 3, Keith Duncan (5-10, 180, jr.)

Punter: No. 22, Michael Sleep-Dalton (6-0, 212, sr.)

Kickoff returns: No. 6, Ihmir Smith-Marsette (6-1, 183, jr.)

Punt returns: No. 89, Nico Ragaini (6-0, 192, fr.)

► BUILDING BLOCKS: Ragaini sees personal progress amid Michigan defeat

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Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz says there was no rhythm overall against Michigan, and it "was just one of those days." Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

PENN STATE PROJECTED STARTERS

OFFENSE

Quarterback: No. 14, Sean Clifford (6-2, 216, soph.)

Running back: No. 4, Journey Brown (5-11, 206, soph.) OR No. 3, Ricky Slade (5-9, 198, soph.) OR No. 21, Noah Cain (5-10, 206, fr.) OR No. 28, Devyn Ford (5-11, 194, fr.)

Tight end: No. 87, Pat Freiermuth (6-5, 256, soph.)

Wide receiver: No. 6, Justin Shorter (6-4, 235, fr.) OR No. 11, Daniel George (6-2, 220, fr.)

Wide receiver: No. 1, K.J. Hamler (5-9, 176, soph.)

Wide receiver: No. 5, Jahan Dotson (5-11, 175, soph.)

Left tackle: No. 53, Rasheed Walker (6-6, 3234, fr.)

Left guard: No. 74, Steven Gonzalez (6-4, 341, sr.)

Center: No. 62, Michal Menet (6-4, 313, jr.)

Right guard: No. 73, Mike Miranda (6-3, 295, soph.) OR No. 69, C.J. Thorpe (6-3, 322, soph.)

Right tackle: No. 71, Will Fries (6-6, 313, jr.)

DEFENSE

Defensive end: No. 18, Shaka Toney (6-3, 243, jr.)

Defensive end: No. 99, Yetur Gross-Matos (6-5, 264, jr.)

Defensive tackle: No. 54, Robert Windsor (6-4, 285, sr.)

Defensive tackle: No. 55, Antonio Shelton (6-2, 311, jr.)

Outside linebacker: No. 11, Micah Parsons (6-3, 245, soph.)

Outside linebacker: No. 6, Cam Brown (6-5, 233, sr.)

Middle linebacker: No. 36, Jan Johnson (6-2, 231, sr.)

Cornerback: No. 5, Tariq Castro-Fields (6-0, 197, jr.)

Cornerback: No. 29, John Reid (5-10, 181, sr.)

Safety: No. 17, Garrett Taylor (6-0, 198, sr.)

Safety: No. 38, Lamont Wade (5-9, 199, jr.)

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker: No. 92, Jake Pinegar (6-2, 195, soph.)

Punter: No. 93, Blake Gillikin (6-2, 196, sr.)

Kickoff and punt returns: No. 1, K.J. Hamler (5-9, 176, soph.)

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Iowa defensive tackle Daviyon Nixon has had a strong start to his sophomore year, and now he gets some help with starter Brady Reiff's return. Chad Leistikow, Hawk Central

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