Abe Assad (left) and Aaron Brooks at the 2022 Iowa/Penn State dual meet (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
#2 Iowa travels to #1 Penn State tonight to take part in the most anticipated dual meet of the 2022-23 season. While this has been a Big Ten dual since the Nittany Lions joined the conference in 1990, the rivalry has exploded since Cael Sanderson moved to State College prior to the 2009-10 season. Sanderson’s Penn State teams and Tom Brands’ Hawkeyes have been responsible for winning 14 of the last 15 NCAA titles.
With such highly ranked teams involved, there are also plenty of great individuals involved in this dual, as well. This year is no exception as 19 of the 20 wrestlers expected to compete tonight are currently ranked by InterMat. In addition, there are five returning NCAA champions between these two powerhouses. 9 have already earned NCAA All-American honors at least once in their careers.
Since this rivalry has taken off after Cael Sanderson’s arrival, we have looked at some key numbers in the rivalry, particularly in duals, since the 2009-10 season.
(1) The number of previous times in this series that these teams were ranked #1 and #2 entering the match. 2020’s dual is the other time, Iowa was #1.
(1) The number of times these teams have met in a “non-conference” dual. During the 2013-14 season, the schedule generated by the Big Ten Conference did not feature an Iowa/Penn State match. The coaches agreed that the dual needed to happen so it was called a non-conference match. That dual took place in December of 2013, which was the second time in that calendar year the squads clashed.
(1) The number of times these teams have produced a dual meet with no bonus-point wins. That was the 2015 dual won by Iowa 18-12. 2015 is the only year during this span where a national title was won by a team other than these two schools.
(1) The number of times that the final dual score was within five points. This was in 2020 when Iowa won 19-17. Despite having plenty of highly-competitive individual matches, only five of the duals have been within a ten-point margin of victory for either team.
(2) The number of times that the losing team in this dual meet has gone on to win a national championship in that same season. Penn State achieved the feat in 2011 and 2013.
(3) The number of times that the lower-ranked team has emerged victorious; however, this hasn’t happened since February 2013, when #3 Iowa knocked off #1 Penn State 22-16.
(3) The number of seasons where these two teams did not meet in dual competition of any sort. That was the case in 2016 and 2019, by luck of the draw, with Big Ten scheduling. The 2021 dual was canceled after Covid-related concerns.
(5) The number of times that the road team has won in this series.
(5) The number of dual wins each school has against the other during the Cael Sanderson-era at Penn State.
(6) The number of times wrestlers from these two teams have gone on to meet in the NCAA finals. Penn State has been superior in this area. The only Iowa wrestler to defeat a Nittany Lion in the national finals in this time period was Matt McDonough over Nico Megaludis in 2012.
(7) The number of times when both teams were ranked in the top five at the time of the dual. Every dual since 2012 has featured both teams in the top-five.
(7) The number of individual bouts in this series that have featured a #1 vs #2 matchup. The 2022 dual is the only one with two of them. #1 Nick Lee/#2 Jaydin Eierman and #1 Carter Starocci/#2 Michael Kemerer. Every dual since 2017 has had at least one. The 2023 dual will not have one.
(7) The number of Hodge Trophy’s won by wrestlers from these teams during the time observed. This includes 3 of the two-time winners (Spencer Lee, Zain Retherford, and David Taylor). Brent Metcalf would make the number eight, but his Hodge was won in 2008.
(7) The number of “new” matches we’re expected to see at this dual in 2023. The wrestlers expected to compete at 125-174 have never met each other in collegiate competition before.
(9) The number of pins during these duals. Iowa leads the way with 5 and Tony Ramos was responsible for three of those himself.
(10) The number of matches in this series that have gone to sudden victory or tiebreakers. The 2012, 2017, 2020, and 2022 duals all had two matches needing extra time.
(11) The number of team titles won by these two teams during this span. Nine for Penn State and two for Iowa. The Hawkeyes were also favorites to win before the 2020 tournament was canceled.
(11) The number of top-five-ranked wrestlers who have been upset by a lower-ranked wrestler in this series. The 2011, 2015, 2018, and 2020 duals each had two of these types of upsets. 7 of these upsets came from Iowa wrestlers.
(21) The number of wrestlers who carried a #1 ranking into this dual. 15 have been Nittany Lions.
(29) The highest point total amassed by either team during this season. This was Iowa’s total in 2010, during Cael’s first year at Penn State. The 29-6 win for the Hawkeyes also marks the highest margin of victory (23) in this series.
(42) The number of national titles that have been won by wrestlers involved with this dual since 2009-10. 17 Penn State wrestlers have combined to win 32; while seven Hawkeyes have combined to win 10. Nick Suriano’s two did not count for this figure.
Dual Wins Per Weight Class
125: Iowa (8), Penn State (2)
133: Iowa (6), Penn State (4)
141: Penn State (6), Iowa (4)
149: Penn State (6), Iowa (4)
157: Iowa (7), Penn State (3)
165: Penn State (6), Iowa (4)
174: Penn State (6), Iowa (4)
184: Penn State (8), Iowa (2)
197: Penn State (7), Iowa (3)
285: Iowa (6), Penn State (4)