Penn State football records worst start in team history

penn state football

Another Saturday in the books, another Penn State football let down. The Iowa Hawkeyes came into Beaver Stadium and easily took care of business topping the Nittany Lions 41-21. The loss ends a six-game Penn State winning streak against Iowa and makes some history in the process. That’s right. This team is historically bad. The Nittany Lions have started 0-5 for the first time in program history.

Will Levis got the opportunity to change the tides of the season in his second career start after Sean Clifford’s poor play at quarterback. Levis’ chance was over just about as soon as it started. The redshirt sophomore didn’t look like the answer to Penn State’s problems and was benched in the third quarter after the team went down 24 points.

Here’s how the game went down.

1st Quarter

Penn State football took the opening kickoff but didn’t do much with it. The offense was able to get one first down on a 13-yard catch by Parker Washington to extend the drive on third-and-12, but ultimately had to punt it away.

Iowa received the punt and started a nine-play, 55-yard drive that resulted in a 40-yard field goal to put the Hawkeyes up 3-0 early.

On the second offensive series, Levis put together the most impressive drive of the game to give Penn State its first lead of the season since the final two minutes of the Indiana game in Week 1. It was short play after short play, but they took what the defense gave them. Levis rushed for 44 yards on the drive and set up a six-yard touchdown run from Keyvone Lee.

2nd Quarter

Iowa marched down the field in the final two minutes of the first quarter and set itself up for a first-and-goal from the five-yard line to begin the second. After an illegal formation penalty, Tyler Goodson made Jesse Luketa miss on a tackle and took it around the left end for a 10-yard touchdown.

Penn State and Iowa then exchanged three-and-outs and the score remained 10-7. At the 10-minute mark before halftime, Levis ran an option play and pitched the ball behind Lee and the freshman running back couldn’t control it. The Hawkeyes jumped on the loose ball and took over inside Penn State’s territory. Iowa took advantage of the turnover and turned it into points. Eight plays and 41 yards later and Iowa had a 17-7 lead.

The Penn State offense managed to get the ball inside Iowa territory and was faced with a fourth-and-one. To no one’s surprise, Levis kept the ball on a quarterback draw, but the offensive line got no push and was stuffed short of the line to gain giving the ball back to Spencer Petras and Iowa.

After a tackle for loss and sack from Shaka Toney, Iowa punted the ball back to the Nittany Lions with three minutes left in the quarter. Once again the offense stalled around midfield and it led to points for the other team. James Franklin elected to go for it on fourth down for the second consecutive drive, and Levis’ incomplete pass set Iowa up with good field position right before half.

Petras led a successful two-minute drill and Mekhi Sargent scored his second rushing touchdown of the afternoon. Iowa led by 17 at intermission.

3rd Quarter

After an Iowa punt to start the second half with great field position, Levis was stripped and coughed up his second turnover of the day. The Hawkeyes took advantage and extended the lead to 24-7 after Petras ran it in from three yards out.

Then, another three-and-out for the Penn State offense and that was all we saw from Levis on the day. Lamont Wade scooped up an unforced fumble on the ensuing drive to get the ball back to the offense and in came Sean Clifford. On his first snap of the afternoon, Clifford connected with Brenton Strange for a 28-yard score and the offense found some life.

After a missed field goal, Clifford found Jahan Dotson for a 68-yard touchdown then Lee for the two-point conversion to cut the lead to 10 before the end of the quarter. Clifford completed two of two passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter.

4th Quarter

The third quarter magic from Clifford wasn’t enough, however. In the next three offensive possessions, he threw two interceptions including one that was returned for a touchdown by Daviyon Nixon. I guess that’s what happens when you call the same running back screen pass every play when down two touchdowns.


Levis got his opportunity to start at quarterback and didn’t take advantage of it. There is probably going to be some controversy with Clifford coming in off the bench and doing things well as well as making horrible mistakes.

Clearly neither of those two are the answer, so why not give Ta’Quan Roberson a shot? I know it can’t get worse. This is the worst Penn State team of all time, and at this point, it’s almost comical.

Here’s to hoping something changes and Penn State football can beat Michigan.