That fateful day nearly two years ago marked the occasion when the high-flying Nittany Lions flew into Iowa in a battle of two Five the nation-ranked Big Ten teams, each with Playoff aspirations.
The game was the beginning of the end for the visitors, as No 4 Penn State fell to No 3 Iowa 23-20. The Lions, who were unbeaten at 5-0 heading into that game, finished the regular season 6-6 before dropping their bowl game to Arkansas.
Meanwhile, Robinson, who was playing for Maryland at the time, was getting blown out that day by Ohio State, his team yielding 66 points in the process to the Buckeyes.
But, the freshman edge rusher was still making a name for himself with the Terps who finished below the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten standings that season.
Robinson played in all 13 games for Maryland that year before deciding to transfer to Happy Valley.
While he wasn’t a Nittany Lion during that defeat to Iowa in 2021, Robinson definitely took that loss very personally when he became one.
Of the entire team, number 44 clearly played with the biggest chip on his shoulder in Saturday night’s 31-0 steamrolling over their Big Ten rivals in what turned out to be a revenge game of epic proportions.
Chop Robinson’s Emotion Fuels Penn State Football Dominance over Iowa
In that game in 2021, Iowa fans famously, or infamously, for that matter, accused many Penn State players of dropping down on the field and faking injuries.
Iowa Head coach Kirk Ferentz said that his fans “smelled a rat” and that fans and coaches accusing the Nittany Lions of faking their injuries was fair play.
But it got much worse.
Iowa’s special teams coordinator, LaVar Woods, in an attempt to make fun of Penn State’s Arnold Ebiketie and PJ Mustipher, two players who brought Robinson into the fold at Penn State, was seen flopping on the sideline during the game.
After the game, Nits head coach James Franklin said that Ebiketie’s injury looked serious, while Mustipher found out he had torn his ACL and wouldn’t play football until the 2022 season.
To say Robinson had just filed it away, while biding his time for the right moment, would be an understatement.
Franklin didn’t miss a chance to add some extra fuel to his team’s pre-game fire either the other night. Franklin and his coaching staff, Robinson said, showed Penn State film of Woods flopping on the sideline in 2021.
“That film session was a huge inspiration for us and was one of my biggest motivators before the game”, Robinson told reporters afterwards.
So, when Robinson took the field on Saturday night in front of 110,780 screaming fans all donned in white, twice after making a big play the junior star dropped limp to the ground.
It was a change of pace for someone whose normal celebration is an imitation of chopping wood.
“We don’t take that type of disrespect,” Robinson said after the Iowa game. “I just had to do it for them to be honest.”
Chop Robinson vs. Iowa was a pass rushing clinic.— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) September 26, 2023
First-step burst, bend, versatility, closing quickness pic.twitter.com/eMW3gaMjnX
Robinson put on his performance of the season against the Hawkeyes. Penn State Football changed the way it used its defensive line Saturday, putting three defensive ends on the field at once and letting Robinson rush the quarterback from the inside. Robinson totaled one sack, one forced fumble, and two qb hurries.
Some of Robinson’s best moments didn’t even show up on his stat sheet but they were pretty prominent on the opposing quarterback’s post-game report.
Robinson made Hawkeye quarterback Cade McNamara very uncomfortable throughout the game, and it showed as the highly touted transfer from Michigan went just 5-14 for 42 yards on the evening.
Robinson was a big reason why and as he put it afterwards, he’s happy to do the dirty work as long as his team finds ways to win.
“As long as I do my job and the people behind me are making plays or we’re winning, that’s what matters to me,” he said. “I could care less about stats.”
Pro Football Focus was as impressed with Robinson as anyone else, if not more so.
Robinson was their highest graded defensive player in Week 4 with a minimum of 20 snaps. The outlet gave him a 95.4 grade and put him on their old weekly team of the week. And that list included defensive player of the week: Edge Rusher Jonah Elliss from Utah.
Elliss was absolutely dominant for the Utes as they moved to 4-0 on the year with a win over UCLA. From 42 pass-rushing snaps, he racked up four sacks and five hurries. And all five of his tackles resulted in a defensive stop.
That’s some pretty company to be a part of.
But the most important thing to Robinson was getting the win, especially against Iowa.
Robinson’s time so far at PSU has been anything but a flop, and it might well lead him to hearing his name called during the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.