Iowa Football: Mitigating Jahan Dotson could be key against Penn State

The Iowa Hawkeyes defense must contain Penn State receiver Jahan Dotson on Saturday in order to win.

The defensive side of the ball has been the strong suit for Iowa football (2-2) in 2020. Neither of the Hawkeyes‘ two losses can be pinned on the defense, which is allowing an average of just 14.5 points per game this season.

Iowa has done a good job of limiting big plays through four games. That trend will need to continue on Saturday against Penn State, particularly against receiver Jahan Dotson. Every time Iowa plays the Nittany Lions it seems one player wrecks the game. In recent years it’s been Chris Godwin, Saquon Barkley, Noah Cain and K.J. Hamler.

Saturday could be Dotson’s chance to shine. The junior receiver has made at least one catch in 24 straight games dating back to his true freshman season in 2018. Dotson (5-11, 182) is known as a big play threat, with 19 catches of at least 20 yards during his career. He also has five touchdowns of 40 or more yards.

Against Ohio State on Halloween, Dotson put on a spooky performance, recording career-highs in both yards (144) and touchdowns (three). Through four games this season, Doston ranks third in the Big Ten in receiving yards (388). He’s currently averaging 97 receiving yards per game. All of this, despite average performances from starting quarterback Sean Clifford.

Effectively defending the dynamic Dotson could be the key to wrecking Penn State’s offense for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa’s secondary has proven to be one of the stronger positional groups on the team this season. Safety Jack Koerner has an interception in three straight contests. Overall, the Hawkeyes lead the nation in interceptions (61) since 2017. The defense has generated 10 takeaways and has at least two takeaways in each game.

Can the Hawkeyes slow down Penn State’s passing attack, led by Jahan Dotson? That’s the biggest question entering Saturday’s contest.