Noah Cain rushed for 102 yards and the eventual game-winning touchdown Saturday night as No. 10 Penn State remained unbeaten with a 17-12 Big Ten Conference win over No. 17 Iowa in Iowa City.
Cain's 5-yard run with 5:17 left in the game expanded the lead to two scores, an insurmountable lead given the quality of the defenses. It occurred eight plays after the Nittany Lions' Jaquan Brisker intercepted Nate Stanley to take possession at the Hawkeyes' 35-yard line.
Quarterback Sean Clifford completed 12 of 24 passes for 117 yards for Penn State (6-0, 3-0), his first game under 200 yards this season. But Clifford contributed 52 yards on 16 rushes, extending multiple drives with key scrambles for first downs.
Stanley connected on 25 of 43 passes for 286 yards, finding Brandon Smith for a spectacular 33-yard touchdown with 2:31 left in the game. But Iowa (4-2, 1-2) never got the ball back, with Cain extinguishing the Hawkeyes' last chance on a 5-yard run up the middle on third-and-3 with 2:11 remaining.
The Nittany Lions won despite committing eight penalties for 80 yards. On one third-quarter drive, they had two touchdowns nullified by flags and a third overturned by a replay review. They settled for a 33-yard field goal by Jake Pinegar for a 10-6 edge.
The game was billed as a defensive struggle. Penn State and Iowa entered ranked second and third, respectively, in FBS in scoring defense, and each lived up to their reputation.
The Hawkeyes outgained the Nittany Lions 196-117 in the first half, including 73-10 in the first quarter. They became the first team to score on Penn State in the first quarter this season when Keith Duncan bombed a 47-yard field goal with 2:12 on the clock.
But the Nittany Lions took the lead for good with the game's best drive, a 15-play, 84-yard excursion that lasted 5:40. Clifford connected with KJ Hamler on a 22-yard pass for a 7-3 lead with 8:36 left in the half.
Duncan converted from 24 yards out with 20 seconds remaining in the half, cutting the deficit to 7-6 at intermission.
--Field Level Media