IOWA CITY, Iowa -- No. 17 Iowa didn't need a last-second field goal or a scrappy fourth-quarter rally to beat Penn State this time.
Ricky Stanzi and the Hawkeyes defense swapped drama for dominance and dealing the Nittany Lions their worst-ever loss to Iowa.
Stanzi threw for 227 yards and a touchdown and ran for a score, and the Hawkeyes rolled past 22nd-ranked Penn State 24-3 for their third straight win over the Nittany Lions.
Adam Robinson added 95 yards rushing for the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten), who held Penn State to 3-of-13 on third-down conversions and just 54 yards rushing.
"We perform well when we have that backs-against-the-wall feeling," Robinson said. "But it's definitely better when you're on the other side of the spectrum."
The underdog Hawkeyes stunned Penn State 24-23 on a last-second field goal in 2008, then scored 16 points in the final quarter to knock off the Nittany Lions on the road last year.
This time, favored Iowa jumped ahead early and let its defense finish things off.
Iowa raced out to a 17-0 lead late in the first half on Stanzi's 9-yard TD pass to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and his 1-yard plunge. The Hawkeyes stopped Rob Bolden on fourth-and-goal from the 1 in the third quarter, and Shaun Prater returned an interception 33 yards for a TD with 1:27 left.
Bolden had 212 yards passing for Penn State (3-2, 0-1), which has scored just six points in a pair of road losses to Alabama and the Hawkeyes.
Iowa's 21-point victory surpassed its 19-0 win over the Nittany Lions in 1930 -- and it looked like it might get worse than that for Penn State early on.
Michael Meyer hit a 20-yard field goal to put the Hawkeyes ahead 3-0. Stanzi threw an interception on Iowa's next series, but he redeemed himself with a TD pass to Johnson-Koulianos in the back of the end zone to give Iowa a 10-0 lead with a minute left in the first quarter.
The Hawkeyes pushed their lead to 17-0 on a 1-yard touchdown run by Stanzi.
Penn State, which was outgained 148-1 in a brutal first quarter, finally put together a solid drive to open up the second half.
But red zone problems caught up with the Nittany Lions yet again.
On fourth-and-goal at the 1, Bolden sprinted wide and was hit just inches shy of the goal line by Christian Ballard and Jeremiah Hunter.
The stop left Penn State with just six TDs in 18 chances inside the 20 this season -- and it was the closest the Nittany Lions would get to the end zone for the rest of the night.
"It's a big momentum boost," Iowa wide receiver Marvin McNutt said. "The offense can feed off that and the defense can feed off that."
Evan Royster had 56 yards rushing for the Nittany Lions, who've lost eight of nine to Iowa.
"You have to beat them. They don't beat themselves," coach Joe Paterno said. "I don't think we played quite as well as I hoped we would."
Penn State couldn't get anything going in the first half, but it caught a break when Bolden's apparent interception was called back because of a personal foul on Iowa's Mike Daniels.
Bolden then found Brett Brackett for a 49-yard reception to Iowa's 2-yard line with one play left in the first half, with Prater recovering for a touchdown-saving tackle.
But Bolden was whistled for a deflating false start, and the Nittany Lions had to settle for Collin Wagner's 25-yard field goal.
Iowa played under the lights at home for just the eighth time, and Hawkeyes fans were decked out for the occasion. The 70,585 in attendance wore either black or gold in alternating sections, giving off the appearance of stripes throughout Kinnick Stadium.
They didn't get to see anything nearly as dramatic as they did the last time Penn State visited Iowa City. What they witnessed was yet another vintage performance from Iowa's defense, which has held opponents to just 17 points in four home games this season and only three points in the past two weeks.
"It kind of gives me an extra boost to watch our defense, because they're exciting," McNutt said. "They're going to give me momentum."