When Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz reviewed film of Penn State, the Hawkeyes' next opponent, he was nearly left speechless.
Nittany Lions junior Saquon Barkley caught a short pass in the flat from Trace McSorley and turned it into a scintillating 85-yard touchdown in a 56-0 rout of Georgia State last weekend.
"In two words, 'Oh, crap,'" Ferentz said Tuesday when asked what his reaction was. "There's not much to say."
Barkley carried 20 times for 167 yards and one touchdown last year in a 41-14 blowout win over the Hawkeyes at Beaver Stadium. He also caught a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Iowa (3-0) faces No. 4 Penn State (3-0) and Barkley again Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET (TV-ABC) at Kinnick Stadium.
Ferentz has been the Hawkeyes coach since 1999 and was an assistant under Hayden Fry for 11 years before that. He's seen a lot of outstanding backs, but he hinted that Barkley may be the best.
"I'm trying to think of the last time we played a back like this," Ferentz said. "I'm thinking of the backs I've seen in my time in the conference. Eddie George (1995 Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State) was a different kind of guy, but he was a pretty impressive guy.
"He (Barkley) just does so many things well. He's a powerful, strong, fast athlete. He's a really good football player. Run, pass, you name it, he's a threat. He's just a really impressive football player."
Personnel update: Penn State coach James Franklin said he expects guard Brendan Mahon and linebacker Cam Brown to play against Iowa after they missed the Georgia State game for undisclosed reasons.
Mahon, a starter, and Brown, a second-team linebacker, were in uniform last Saturday and participated in pregame drills.
"I think not having Mahon last week caused some challenges for us (on the offensive line)," Franklin said. "On top of that, we moved (Steven) Gonzalez over to the opposite guard, and I think that affected him a little bit.
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"I think having Mahon back will be really helpful."
Defensive end Torrence Brown, who suffered an injury to his right knee last week, most likely will not travel to Iowa.
"At this point I don't really have any updates with Torrence," Franklin said. "I'll probably have more information down the line, but not tomorrow (tonight) after practice."
Polk caught a 15-yard pass in the third quarter from Trace McSorley, his high school teammate at Briar Woods in Virginia. He said he has a greater appreciation for the game.
"With football being taken from me, it was kind of a wakeup call," Polk said. "It was like, when you get out there you need to do everything to the best of your ability.
"I would be down sometimes last year, and I would let it (the injury) affect me. I need to have a positive attitude, and that's what kind of helped me get through that period when I was at my lowest."
Wadley returns: Iowa running back Akrum Wadley practiced Monday after missing the second half of the Hawkeyes' win over North Texas with an ankle injury, coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Wadley rushed for 1,061 yards and 15 touchdowns last season and is one of the best backs in the Big Ten. He has run for 258 yards and one touchdown in the first three games.
James Butler, Wadley's backup, will be out until the middle of October with an injury to his right arm, which he suffered against North Texas. Butler carried 16 times for 74 yards before he left the game.
Toren Young and Ivory Kelly-Martin, a pair of freshmen, are now Wadley's backups.
This article is written by Written Rich Scarcella from Reading Eagle, Pa. and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.