Penn State running back Saquon Barkley runs past Iowa defenders during the Iowa/Penn Sate Big Ten NCAA football game at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Barkley outshines Wadley & Company

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By Carter Melrose

carter-melrose@uiowa.edu

Saquon Barkley, considered by many to be a 2017 Heisman candidate, came into Kinnick with 307 rushing yards, 241 receiving yards, and 5 touchdowns.

When Penn State took the field in Kinnick on the evening of Sept. 23, the prime-time audience was salivating at a chance to witness some Barkley magic. And some of that attention also went to Iowa’s Akrum Wadley, who had accounted for 34 percent of Iowa’s offensive yards in the first three weeks of the season.

And Barkley magic it was. He finished the game with 211 rushing yards, 94 receiving yards, and 1 touchdown. In the first three weeks of the season, Iowa had allowed an average of 335 yards of offense, and Barkley almost matched that by himself. And Iowa couldn’t seem to catch him, losing a tight game, 21-19.

“They are a hard team to defend, and it starts with that running back,” head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “The running back is a special player; I don’t know if I’ve seen many better or any better in my 19 years back here.”

RELATED: Penn State edges Iowa in Big Ten opener

In contrast, Wadley ran for 0 yards in the first half. Not, however, because of a lack of touches; he carried the ball 10 times. The lack of production solely came from a stifling, gap-filling defense by the Nittany Lions.

“We really couldn’t get anything established in the running game.” Ferentz said about the first half.

Wadley did show great flashes, though. Down 15-13 with two minutes left, Iowa needed Wadley to make a play. And he did just that. On first down, during a nice looking drive following Iowa blocking a field-goal attempt, Wadley took a wide-open rushing lane 35 yards for a touchdown, putting Iowa ahead.

Click below for more photos
A man picks up recyclables from a garbage can before the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa fans walk to Kinnick stadium before the game between Iowa and Penn State on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)
An Iowa fan leans against the Stead Family Children's Hospital sign before the game between Penn State and Iowa at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

CSC Event Staff prepares before the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State players warm up on the field before the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

The Hawkeyes take the field before their game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa fans cheer during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Fans cheer during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley is tackled for a safety during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

An angry fan yells at a ref's call during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State running back Miles Sanders hurdles an Iowa defender during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive end Parker Hesse forces a fumble on Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)
Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson blocks a pass during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive end AJ Epenesa bows after forcing an incomplete pass during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki flips in the air after being tackled during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa line backer Josey Jewell celebrates an interception during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley throws a pass during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa wide receiver Nick Easley catches a touchdown pass during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa receiver Nick Easley celebrates after scoring a touchdown during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa fan lifts a child into the air during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley stiff arms Penn State's Manny Bowen during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley breaks free for a touchdown run during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley dives into the end zone for Iowa's second touchdown during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa running back Akrum Wadley celebrates after a touchdown run during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley catches a pitch during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State's Saquon Barkley carries the ball during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State running back Saquon Barkley carries the ball during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State fans celebrate as Juwan Johnson catches the game winning pass during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley throws during the 4th quarter of Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa defensive back Josh Jackson breaks up a pass attempt in the end zone during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa Head Coach Kirk Farentz encourages the Hawkeye defense after a field goal during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State's Saquon Barkley hurdles a defender during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley evades a tackle during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State comes up short of inches on fourth down during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz calls timeout during the game between Penn State and Iowa at Kinnick Stadium on Satruday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley runs with the ball during Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State safety Garrett Taylor (17) celebrates after Juwan Johnson catches the game-winning pass during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa quarterback Nathan Stanley watches the replay of a Penn State interception during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa quarterbacks coach Ken O'Keefe exchanges words with Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley after McSorley punted the ball in celebration after Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

Penn State head coach James Franklin congratulates quarterback Trace McSorley after the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa students react to the final square of Iowa's game against Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Sept. 23, 2017. (Nick Rohlman/The Daily Iowan)

An Iowa fan sulks after Penn State wins the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa fans look on the field after Penn State wins the game winning drive during the game between Iowa and Penn State at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017. (Ben Smith/The Daily Iowan)

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“They were blitzing all day; that was a good play call from coach Brian [Ferentz] at the right time.” Wadley said.

In the first half, Penn State went to Barkley often. So often that at times it seemed as if Barkley was the only Penn State offensive player in the stadium. Barkley ended the first half with 10 rushes for 63 yards and 7 receptions for 47 yards.

To Iowa’s credit, Barkley did not enter the end zone in the first half, but he wasn’t going to be denied in the second half. He quickly created a back-breaking 44-yard run, which he later capped off by finding a worthy angle for a shifty score.

Wadley ended the game with 155 yards, and two scores. This was, however, not enough to rival such a strong performance from Barkley, who had monster numbers. But when it came down to Iowa needing a play, Wadley delivered every time.

“He is a great back,” Josh Jackson said about defending Barkley. “As a defense, I thought we played well.”

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