For weeks Penn State fans talked about the possibility of getting shut out of a National Championship Game like they were in 1994, now they don't have that worry after Iowa crushed the Lions' title hopes will one swift kick. It's funny the range of emotions a fan goes through after an upset win. I was watching the game in a bar in downtown Pittsburgh. Immediately after the game, I left the bar (it was full of Pitt fans who were more happy to see Penn State lose than their team win). The rest of the night I spent in denial. I refused to watch any highlights or watch any other games because there is that chance I could see the winning kick over and over again.
The next day the sun still comes up, and that loss is still there, that's when you really start breaking down what happened for your team to lose. In the case for Penn State, it was the old conservative nature of playing a road game. You could tell from the first snap, that it was going to be a struggle for the Nittany Lions. Heading into a 30 mph win, the coaches did not adjust, but threw three straight times into the wind. The third one almost (and in my opinion should've) resulted in a defensive score by the Hawkeyes.
Daryll Clark did not look sharp, he looked like a man still suffering from the effects of the hit against Ohio State. I won't question his heart, but his decision making was a little slow and his passes were high all day, which we can attribute to the wind. Andrew Quarless has all the talent in the world, but he still misses key blocks and drops passes at the most inopportune time. The Nittany Lions were inside the 10 yard line twice with 1st and goals, only to come out with field goals each time. That's where they lost the game! Defensively, there were a lot of pass coverage breakdowns and why they did not blitz and put more pressure on Ricky Stanzi is beyond me. I give all the credit in the world to Iowa.
They were given the chance to upset the #3 team in the country, and they took it. They stuck to their game plan, and made halftime adjustments that allowed their team the chance to win. Unlike their opponents, they played to win...instead of playing not to lose. Next will be the true character test for Penn State. This week is Indiana, but the following week is Michigan State. Those two games will decide if Penn State plays in the Rose Bowl or is relegated to the Capital One or Outback Bowls. In 1999, the team went into the tank after losing a heartbreaker to Minnesota. So it will be up to the leaders of this team to refocus on the secondary title at hand...the Big Ten Title.