Iowa was in victory formation and the emotion was about to spill over as dusk settled over Kinnick Stadium.
Spencer Petras took the last snap, took a knee and took off, apparently thinking he could get off the field before the students and other fans pouring out of the end zone seats could catch him.
He barely made it to midfield. That’s where he and his teammates were swarmed and the mosh pit formed on the Hawkeyes logo to celebrate No. 3 Iowa’s hard-earned 23-20 victory over fourth-ranked Penn State on Saturday in Iowa City.
“It’s a pretty special place when the lights go on and the sun goes down,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Petras threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Nico Ragaini to complete Iowa’s comeback from a two-touchdown deficit, all accomplished while Penn State’s offense did next to nothing after quarterback Sean Clifford was knocked out of the game.
The Hawkeyes (6-0, 3-0 Big Ten Conference) took control of the West Division with their 12th straight victory and thrust themselves into the College Football Playoff conversation.
“This was like the biggest of the big-time, which was pretty awesome,” Ragaini said. “You don’t get moments like this every day, taking advantage of the opportunity. It was a mentally draining game for sure, and physically draining.”
Penn State (5-1, 2-1) lost for the first time in 10 games and headed back to Happy Valley with a list of injuries that could make its path through the rest of the season difficult.
“It’s just a bump in the road,” Lions defensive end Arnole Ebiketie said. “We have to get better.”
Penn State coach James Franklin didn’t disclose the nature of Clifford’s injury. He was hurt with the Lions leading 17-3 when he took a big hit from linebacker Jack Campbell, and he was out of uniform on the sideline in the second half.
After Ta’Quan Roberson took over for Clifford in the middle of the second quarter, Penn State managed just 50 yards on 46 plays the rest of the way.
No. 7 Ohio State 66, Maryland 17
C.J. Stroud threw five touchdowns passes and the host Buckeyes (5-1, 3-0) scored on nine straight possessions en route to steamrolling the Terrapins (4-2, 1-2) in Columbus.
The freshman quarterback was 24-for-33 for 406 yards and threw two touchdown passes each to star wideouts Chris Olave and Garrett Wilson against a depleted Maryland secondary before taking a seat after three quarters.
“Last week and this week, we were damn near perfect,” said Olave, whose team beat Rutgers 52-13 in its previous game.
Ohio State “had guys look like they fell out of airplanes, they were so wide open,” Maryland coach Mike Locksley said.
No. 11 Michigan State 31, Rutgers 13
Jalen Nailor caught touchdown passes of 63, 63 and 65 yards from Payton Thorne and the Spartans (6-0, 3-0) used their big-play offense to beat the host Scarlet Knights (3-4 0-3) in Piscataway, New Jersey.
No. 9 Michigan 32, Nebraska 29
Jake Moody kicked two field goals 96 seconds apart in the fourth quarter, the last coming from 39 yards out with 1:24 left in the game, as the visiting Wolverines (6-0, 3-0) survived the Cornhuskers (3-4, 1-3) in Lincoln.