Penn State became the preseason top 10 team start a season 0-5 on Saturday when it lost 41-21 to Iowa and fell to 0-5 for the first time in program history. For a team that began the season ranked No. 7 coming off an 11-2 campaign, the loss continued a stunning fall.
Rather than competing with Ohio State for a Big Ten East title, the Nittany Lions now find themselves as the only winless team in the conference. Barring a miracle run through the final three regular-season games and two potential postseason games (every Big Ten team is expected to play a cross-division foe on Dec. 19), the Nittany Lions will finish with a losing record for the first time since the 2004 season.
Penn State played without star tight end Pat Freiermuth on Saturday, adding to a long list of notable absences. It had already lost its top two running backs in Journey Brown and Noah Cain, and PSU saw star outside linebacker Micah Parsons opt out of the season. For good measure, the Nittany Lions tried a new quarterback against the Hawkeyes as well.
Redshirt sophomore Will Levis got the first start of his career and went 13 of 16 for 106 yards. Former starter Sean Clifford entered in the third quarter with Penn State trailing 31-7 and threw two touchdowns in the third quarter to bring the Nittany Lions within 31-21. However, the comeback effort fizzled and eventually crashed when Daviyon Nixon picked off Clifford and ran 71 yards for a touchdown to seal the outcome with 1:58 remaining.
Penn State also made a third quarter comeback in last week’s 30-23 loss to Nebraska. That one ultimately fell short as well. Next up for Penn State is a road game at Michigan, which is also struggling early in its 2020 campaign.
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