But there's an obvious difference between this Penn State squad and that MI one: The Nittany Lions, led by quarterback Trace McSorley, running back Saquon Barkley and a dynamic group of receivers, have one of the most potent offenses in the country. Penn State has won and covered the spread in three straight meetings with Iowa.
In one of the top matchups of the weekend, the No. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Iowa City for a meeting with the Hawkeyes.
Penn State took the ball first in this one and drove into Iowa territory. Things are about to get hotter than Mike Francesa's strained vocal cords around Happy Valley, and it starts with Iowa. "We've got to be ready to deal with that". Simone Lee led the Nittany Lions with 22 kills, while Haleigh Washington and Ali Frantti chipped in 12 and 10 kills respectively.
This should be a pretty entertaining game for a bit, but Penn State just has too many playmakers on offense to not come away with a win. And we know well that Iowa has troubles when it comes to the passing game. "Our focus right now, our motivation is basically to play our best for 60 minutes, and that's what it's going to take to be victorious".
Barkley is second nationally with 218.3 all-purpose yards per game.
But with McSorley and Barkley leading the charge, that lead wouldn't last.
There were portions (albeit small) of all three games so far in which the opposition controlled both lines of scrimmage, even Georgia State, which had a 100-yard rusher.
"Offensively, one of our issues past year was starting out slow", Penn State coach James Franklin said.
The Hawkeyes avoided a major injury to their top back but lost another on Saturday in a win over North Texas.
Akrum Wadley had two fourth quarter touchdowns for Iowa. Some of that has been because the Lions' defense toughened up, but in other situations it's been the opposing offenses making big mistakes, dropping passes or just not having enough playmakers. What's different is that they're scoring at a much higher clip (33 point per game) -at least early on- than they did in 2016 (24.9 points per). "Our plan will be to use all three guys. I think we have a team that should and will do well in the Big Ten, but we have to get complete buy-in from everybody, and when we have opportunities, we have to score goals, and we can't break down defensively like we did against Loyola".
It has been one year since Penn State's last regular-season loss, a 49-10 rout to MI in Week 4 of 2016. Ferentz is preparing for the dynamic back to have a bounce-back game.
"Defensively, we're giving up some yards, but I think we're playing really good defense", Franklin said. "I don't know all the seniors in the country, but my guess is he would have been pretty high a year ago".
Last week, Karly Stuenkel said her team needed to "have a really good start to conference play".