Iowa’s defense leading country in forced turnovers, ball security emphasized

Nittany Nation

FILE – Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford (14) passes against Indiana in the first half of their NCAA college football game in State College, Pa., in this Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021, file photo. The key matchup in fourth-ranked Penn State’s showdown with No. 3 Iowa pits the Nittany Lions’ passing combo of Sean Clifford and Jahan Dotson against a defense that leads the nation with 12 interceptions.(AP Photo/Barry Reeger, File)

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. (WTAJ) – By just about every statistical category Iowa’s defense is one of the best in college football. But, one stat jumps off the page: turnovers.

The Hawkeyes lead the country in created turnovers and have the best margin in college football. Last week against Maryland, they forced the Terrapins to throw six interceptions.

Penn State has taken care of the ball as good as anyone and ball security is one of those talking points that comes up regardless of opponent. But this week, it’s extra meaningful.

“It’s critical every week,” said Sean Clifford, redshirt-senior quarterback. “We talk about it all the time, so it’s nothing new. I think obviously, maybe emphasized, just because of how well they’ve been doing with 16 turnovers- leading the country. It’s definitely a stat that pops out.”

Clifford’s interception concerns from last year have been more or less put to rest, but the Hawkeyes have still picked off quarterbacks 12 times. Iowa’s primarily zone defense forces quarterbacks to make good decisions.

“They do a good job of being in the right place all the time,” said Clifford. “They’re very assignment-sound. They don’t do a ton, but they’ve mastered what they do and it makes it really hard for teams to find holes sometimes.”

All those Iowa turnovers have led to Iowa points. Despite being dead last in the Big Ten in yards, the Hawkeyes are near the top in scoring– they have turned those turnovers in to 68 points, which is more than 40% of their scoring.

No. 4 Penn State and no. 3 Iowa play at 4 PM ET on Saturday.

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