Andy’s Insights: Quarterbacks in the spotlight for Penn State at Iowa

Andys Insights

Look for night game at Kinnick Stadium to be decided by either Sean Clifford or Nate Stanley

University of Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium for a night game is one of those atmospheres every college football fans should put on their bucket list.

You have the pink lockerrooms for the visitors, the fans are right on top of the players with very little room on the sidelines and it is so loud simple communications on the field become nearly impossible.

That’s what first-year Penn State starting quarterback Sean Clifford faces Saturday night. This was supposed to be test No. 2 in a loud and tough environment for the Nittany Lions.

Maryland shortchanged the young Nittany Lions on the experience front with that poor start two weeks ago. The sellout crowd never had a chance to get into the game and become a factor.

So unless the Nittany Lions come out and roll up three or four unanswered touchdowns in quick order, expect the crowd noise and environment to be a real factor for Clifford and the offense.

It’s going to be a huge factor in Saturday’s matchup between the No. 10 ranked Nittany Lions and No. 17 Iowa.

Because, in my opinion, this game is going to come down to the quarterbacks. The one who handles the big stage the best, is efficient and short on mistakes will most likely win this game.

Iowa’s Nate Stanley is a fifth-year senior who is starting for the third straight year. Clifford is a redshirt sophomore making his sixth start overall, and the first against a fellow ranked opponent.

So many other factors are a wash. Each squad boasts at Top 5 total defense and scoring defense in the country. Running the ball has been nearly impossible against the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes. Neither squad has a go-to running back so expect the teams combine to use as many as seven running backs.

I think Penn State has a better overall defense in terms of talent and speed. But Iowa’s D is rock solid.

Kicking game, special teams and mistakes are always part of the equation, but with so much being equal the question to answer is which quarterback do you fancy?

Stanley is talented but has underperformed in big games and had a rough outing a week ago in the loss to Michigan. He was simply awful against Penn State at Beaver Stadium a year ago when he completed 18 of 49 passes and threw two interceptions. A strong case could be made if he was just decent in that game, the Hawkeyes win.

Saturday’s match-up, in my view, boils down to a simple choice – Clifford or Stanley? One of these guys is going to be the No. 1 reason their team wins.

You’ll learn a lot about Clifford on Saturday, Penn State fans. This will be a baptism by fire in a very difficult environment.

This game has all the ingredients for the final five minutes to decide the winner. Clifford or Stanley?