Hawkeyes thorn in Penn State's side

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Penn State has had a difficult time with Iowa in the past decade.

The Nittany Lions are just 1-7 against the Hawkeyes since the 2000 season, and 0-3 on the road.

On top of that, coach Joe Paterno is 2-7 against Iowa's Kirk Ferentz, a native of Upper St. Clair.

"Iowa has been a good, solid football team that's played extremely well against us," said Paterno, 11-10 in his career against the Hawkeyes. "And I think Kirk's done a great job.

"I think when he plays Penn State, there's a little bit of something there because he is a Pennsylvania kid and his father-in-law [Gerry Hart] and I were high school teammates."

"But they just do a good job. They recruit well. The kids play hard. They're disciplined. You gotta beat them. They don't beat themselves. ... I think they've beaten us fair and square."

Penn State is ranked No. 22 and Iowa No. 17 heading into their Big Ten Conference opener Saturday night in Iowa City. Both teams were 3-1 in non-conference play.

A year ago, Iowa's Adrian Clayborn blocked Jeremy Boone's punt and returned it 53 yards for a touchdown as the Hawkeyes outscored the Lions, 16-0, in the fourth quarter for a 21-10 victory at Beaver Stadium.

In 2008, Daniel Murray's 31-yard field goal with a second remaining lifted Iowa to a 24-23 victory at Kinnick Stadium and ruined Penn State's unbeaten season in the 10th week.

"It's tough losing to a team two years in a row like that," tailback Evan Royster said Tuesday.

"It was humbling, and it really hurt our season two years ago.

"Last year, we had a lot of early momentum going all our way. It was tough to lose the game like that."

Paterno said during his weekly news conference Tuesday that Chima Okoli, a 6-foot-4, 291-pound redshirt junior, would replace Lou Eliades at right tackle.

Eliades tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the third quarter of the win Saturday against Temple. He was replaced by Okoli, a converted defensive tackle.

Royster said DeOn'tae Pannell also has been getting snaps at right tackle, where he started the first four games last season.

"I think Okoli deserves an opportunity to go in there as starting right tackle," Paterno said.

Okoli will make his first career start against one of the best defensive fronts in the country, led by ends Clayborn and Broderick Binns.

"It's going to be me vs. you 1 on 1," Okoli said. "I'm going to do everything in my power against them.

"We've worked too hard to come in there and be timid or apprehensive.

"It's going to be a huge challenge, but that's why you come to Penn State and put on the uniform, for challenges like this."

Paterno said Okoli is "going to have troubles. Everybody else in the country who has played against them has had troubles."

Paterno praised Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi, 21-5 as the Hawkeyes' starter, including wins against Penn State the past two seasons.

Stanzi has completed 66.7 percent of his passes (66 of 99) for 999 yards this season. He has nine touchdown passes and one interception and ranks fifth nationally with a pass-efficiency rating of 179.41.

"Two years ago, he took them down the field in the clutch [against us]," Paterno said. "I think he's turned out to be one of the better quarterbacks in the country."

NOTES -- Paterno said he encouraged free safety Nick Sukay (Greensburg Central Catholic) to take more chances before the game Saturday against Temple. Sukay responded with two interceptions. "Nick has been a little bit hesitant to jump on some passes," Paterno said. "He played the man sometimes when he should have gone after the football. And we talked about that. I told him, `I think you can get one or two if you just believe what you see.' " ... Although former starting wide receiver Chaz Powell only has three catches for 11 yards in four games, Paterno plans to keep Powell on offense. Powell also has played defensive back in the past. ... Paterno said wide receiver Shawney Kersey returned to practice Monday. He did not practice last week while exploring a possible transfer. ... Six of the past 10 games in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less. Iowa is 4-7 against Penn State at home.

For more on Penn State, read Ron Musselman on Penn State at post-gazette.com/plus: Ron Musselman: rmusselman@post-gazette.com .


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