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Five observations from Penn State’s 30-24 win over Iowa

Trace McSorley showed yet another facet of why he's one of college football's best all-around players. Tommy Stevens, Yetor Gross-Matos, and Jake Pinegar also stood out.

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley runs 51 yards for a touchdown against Iowa.
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley runs 51 yards for a touchdown against Iowa.Read moreAbby Drey/Centre Daily Times

Penn State's 30-24 win over Iowa pushed the Nittany Lions up three spots in the Associated Press poll and set up a top-15 matchup with Michigan this weekend.

But first, let's look at what we saw in Saturday's game.

What more can you say about Trace McSorley?

Once he began his postgame remarks, James Franklin didn't speak for very long before saying, "Trace McSorley is the best player in college football. I do not care what anyone says because he's as tough as it gets."

McSorley has taken his share of hard hits in his three years as starting quarterback, but he never needed assistance in leaving the field as he did Saturday on a sack after which he clutched his right knee. He looked done for the day, if not longer. But after being examined further at halftime and staying loose riding a stationary bike, McSorley returned and played the entire second half, surprising everyone at Beaver Stadium with a 51-yard touchdown run on his fourth play of the half.

"In my mind, if I was going to be dressed and ready for the game in my uniform and shoulder pads and all that, I wanted to be in," he said. McSorley will be remembered for a long time after he leaves Happy Valley, but Saturday's memory will be right up there.

Tommy Stevens is the ultimate teammate

Stevens could have moved on to another college during the summer and had two years of eligibility left as a graduate transfer at quarterback, but decided to stay. Now in his fourth year in the program, Stevens took his most snaps – 10 – as a quarterback in a non-garbage time situation for the Nittany Lions on Saturday while McSorley was on the bench, and scored a touchdown.

When McSorley returned in the second half, no one was happier to see him in the game than Stevens. "I'm glad I'm friends with him. He's truly a special guy," Stevens said. Franklin was just as direct about Stevens: "He's the ultimate team guy."

The revolving defensive-end stars

Earlier this year, it was Shareef Miller. Two weekends ago, it was Shaka Toney. Saturday, sophomore Yetor Gross-Matos stepped up at defensive end to dominate the line of scrimmage.

Gross-Matos led the Lions in tackles against Iowa with nine, including two sacks and four tackles for loss. His totals in the last three games are 4 ½ sacks and 8 ½ tackles for loss.

The 6-foot-5, 259-pound Virginia native said his improvement has been fueled in part by his work with Ryan Buchholz and Torrence Brown, two former Lions defensive ends who had to give up football because of injuries.

"They're like big brothers to me," he said.

The Big Ten recognized Gross-Matos' play Saturday by naming him the conference's defensive player of the week.

Freshman kicker is cool on big stage

It turns out that Jake Pinegar just needed a little time before learning how to translate his excellent performances during the week from the practice field to a big stadium full of people. The rookie from Ankney, Iowa, made an impression on the team from his home state by going 3-for-3 on field goals, with the makes coming from 45, 49 and 44 yards. Before Saturday, his longest field goal had been 39 yards.

Pinegar has kicked six field goals in a row and is 9 for 13 this season. The coaches have stayed positive with Pinegar.

"I believe with their investment and us loving them and us believing in them and developing them, they are going to make plays for you," Franklin said.

Why do football games take so long?

When Iowa shut out Maryland on Oct. 20, the game took a swift 2 hours, 49 minutes from opening kickoff to final gun. For whatever reason, however, the Hawkeyes couldn't make Saturday's game go faster, with the final Penn State tackle halting the stopwatch at 3:42.

The last four Nittany Lions games have averaged 3 hours, 44 ½ minutes. Too many TV timeouts, too long of a halftime, too many replay reviews … there are a number of reasons a game takes forever to finish. Maybe they should have some kind of express rules, in which coaches agree to a limit on timeouts and reviews. Just a thought.