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Iowa looks ready to host Penn State after dismantling Maryland

Penn State still has to get past Indiana on Saturday night in Beaver Stadium, but fans were able to get a good look at the next opponent for the Nittany Lions on Friday night. The Iowa Hawkeyes traveled to Maryland for a Friday night game that many expected could be a tight one. But boy were those people wrong.

Iowa was absolutely dominant on the road in College Park on Friday night, blasting the Terps 51-14. Iowa led the game 34-7 at halftime and the defense forced seven turnovers. Five of those turnovers came by way of an interception of Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa, who entered the weekend as the Big Ten’s top-rated passer. And Iowa’s defense picked him apart from start to finish. And for Tagovailia, he was done early in the fourth quarter.

Tagovailoa was pulled from the game as an act of mercy by Maryland head coach Mike Locksley. Tagovailis became the latest victim to receive an in-game benching against the feisty Iowa defense. Iowa also forced Indiana and Iowa State to bench their starting quarterbacks, Michael Penix Jr. and Brock Purdy, respectively.

You probably already know where this is heading, but it is pretty safe to say Penn State and quarterback Sean Clifford are going to be put to the test next weekend in Iowa City.

Iowa’s defense has picked off 11 passes this season, now more than double the INT total of any other Big Ten team as Week 5 continues on Saturday. Iowa intercepted Penn State twice last season in a 41-21 victory over the Nittany Lions in Beaver Stadium last season.

We’ll wait to see how Clifford performs Saturday night against Indiana, but the third-year starting quarterback has clearly been doing a much better of protecting the football this season. Clifford has been given the luxury of solid pass protection and he has done a better job of connecting with multiple receivers while also taking some deep chances with Jahan Dotson. But the bad decisions Clifford made early last season have been non-existent.

That is a trend that must continue next week if Penn State is going to get out of Kinnick Stadium in Week 6. But first, scoring revenge on the Hoosiers in Week 5.

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