Matt McGloin passed for two touchdowns, and Bill Belton ran for three more as Penn State (5-2, 3-0 Big Ten) torched Iowa (4-3, 2-1), 38-14, at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday night to extend its winning streak to five games. It was Penn State's first win in Iowa City since 1999.
"I thought this was going to be a really tight, competitive ballgame," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
The Lions led by 24-0 at halftime, dominating Iowa in total yards (304-99) and first downs (17-5).
"It's not always pretty but I couldn't be happier for the guys in that locker room with the effort in which they played," Penn State coach Bill O'Brien said. "They know, at the end of the day, there's only five games left. So what are you going to do? If we play flat today, the last four we'll get it up again?"
Penn State stifled Iowa on the Hawkeyes' first drive, a three-and-out. It would be the first of four three-and-outs for Iowa in the first half.
Penn State, too, was unsuccessful on its first drive. But Bill O'Brien - who brought a pro-style offense to a Penn State program in desperate need of change - shifted to his NASCAR, no-huddle offense on the second drive. The Hawkeyes had no answer.
With 7 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the first quarter, on a third-and-7 play, McGloin evaded the pass rush, scrambled, then found tight end Jesse James in the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown. Greg Castillo, son of recently fired Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, was on the coverage.
On the next drive, O'Brien, now notorious as a fourth-down gambler, went for it on fourth and 3 at the Iowa 45. Iowa, struggling to keep up with Penn State's no-huddle offense, called a timeout. After the break, McGloin didn't flinch. He connected with freshman tight end Kyle Carter for a 34-yard play to the Iowa 11.
Three plays later, McGloin connected with sophomore wide receiver Allen Robinson for an 8-yard touchdown. It was Robinson's eighth touchdown of the year, the same number Penn State transfers Justin Brown (Oklahoma) and Silas Redd (Southern California) have combined.
The Lions' first two scoring drives each took less than three minutes.
Penn State has outscored its opposition, 66-0, in the first quarter this season.
"I think our guys are learning about the pace we want to play with better and better every week," O'Brien said.
In the second quarter, Belton, from Winslow Township, added an 11-yard touchdown while oft-criticized kicker Sam Ficken improved to 4 for 10 on the year with a season-best 34-yard field goal.
Iowa's Mike Meyer, who entered the game as the Big Ten's top kicker, was 0 for 2 in the first half. He had previously made 13 straight attempts.
Iowa fans booed their team off the field as it headed to the locker room at halftime. When the teams came out after the break, the boos were out again. Penn State cornerback Jesse Della Valle returned the kickoff 46 yards and, two plays later, Belton rushed 3 yards for another touchdown.
Through three quarters, Penn State accumulated 438 offensive yards. The Lions' season-high for an entire game was 491, against Temple.
"Through three quarters, I think they did what we wanted them to do," O'Brien said. "They got a little sloppy in the fourth quarter."
Iowa scored two touchdowns in the final 15 minutes, though most of the sellout crowd at Kinnick Stadium had departed by then.
For years, Penn State and Iowa possessed similar styles. The games were slow, dominated by the run game and possession. But McGloin, who insisted earlier this week "it will not be a low-scoring affair," held up his end of the bargain.
The win sets up a showdown with undefeated - and also bowl-ineligible - Ohio State next week at Beaver Stadium.