Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes Expert Picks with Odds and Predictions
Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes, 8 p.m., Saturday Sept. 23
Danger lurks at night in the Iowa corn fields. Not in the shadows. But in the bright lights of Kimmick Stadium.
After their resurrection in 2016, Penn State entered the 2017 season as legitimate National Championship contenders. And through three games they haven't disappointed, winning all three by a combined score of 141-14. But now the Nittany Lions are facing their first true test when they take on Iowa in an evening kickoff that is sure to rouse some rabble in the Hawkeye State.
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Iowa, on the other hand, is looking to make a statement that it will be the No. 1 contender to Wisconsin in the Pac-12 West. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz has been known for two things in his time in Iowa City: his overwhelming mediocrity and his uncanny ability to spring the occasional mammoth upset. Just ask Michigan, who Iowa knocked out of national title contention last season with a 14-13 home win as 21-point underdogs last November.
Penn State at Iowa Betting Storylines
Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley and running back Saquon Barkley are the best one-two combination in college football this year and a pair of Heisman Trophy candidates. The two juniors have already combined for 14 touchdowns this year after amassing 51 in the 2016 campaign.
Coach James Franklin's team is as talented as any. But what really sets Penn State apart this season is its experience. They have 12 senior starters and a whopping nine three-year starters. And guys like wideout DaeSean Hamilton, guard Andrew Nelson, and safety Marcus Allen have been starting for the better part of four seasons at State College.
Iowa is not as talented. But they do have plenty of experience on their own sideline with 11 senior starters and seven three-year starters. The majority of their battle scars are on the defensive side of the ball. Iowa has eight guys back from the nation's No. 13 total defense last year, including senior four-year starter and leading tackler Josey Jewell. And keep an eye on ends Matt and Anthony Nelson. The pair aren't related, but both are at least 6-feet-7 and capable of wreaking some havoc.
As a result of the Big Ten's seemingly constant restructuring, last year was just the first meeting between these two teams since 2012. It wasn't much of a game as Penn State rolled up nearly 600 yards of total offense in a 41-14 demolition in Happy Valley. Penn State has won, and covered the spread, in three straight games between these schools.
Despite similarities in talent and style of play, Penn State-Iowa games have been primarily blowouts over the past decade. Over the past 10 years (seven meetings) just one of their meetings have been decided by fewer than 10 points, a 24-23 meeting in 2008. The other six games were decided by an average of 18.8 points per game.
Penn State at Iowa Odds and Betting Trends
Despite this game being in Iowa City, the Nittany Lions are considerable favorites here . Penn State opened at -11 and the number has moved to -12.5 thanks to nearly 70 percent of the action coming in on the Nittany Lions. The total started at 53.0 and has ticked down to 52.5 or 52.0 depending on the sportsbooks.
Penn State has been one of the best moneymakers in the country, going 13-3 against the spread in their last 16 games. Penn State is 9-0 ATS in its last nine conference games and 4-0 ATS on the road. Iowa has also been a solid wager in Big Ten play, going 5-2 ATS in its last seven league games. But the Hawkeyes are just 4-12 ATS in their last 16 home games. Penn State has gone 'over' in 15 of 21 games, including five of six on the road, while Iowa is just 2-5 against the total in its last seven games.
The home team has gone 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings between these two.
Penn State at Iowa Predictions and Picks
Penn State is no joke. The defending Big Ten Champions have won 12 of their last 13 games going back to last season. That includes wins over Ohio State and Wisconsin and a near-miss against USC in the Rose Bowl. However, Penn State really hasn't proven that it can go on the road and lay the lumber against an opponent that can punch back. Both losses last year came on the road, and Penn State has yet to play in hostile territory this season.
Iowa is outmanned. They are outgunned. And if they get down early in this one they don't have anywhere close to the firepower to keep up with Penn State's dynamic duo. However, they have been excellent at home. Last year they almost took down Wisconsin and did beat Michigan in Iowa City. And the Hawkeyes always seem to raise their level of play, going 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games against Top 25 opponents.
I think the Iowa defense is going to come to play. And I think that they will be able to slow down Penn State's high-powered attack. I don't think they have enough to spring the upset. But I expect a slobberknocker and I think that this one tucks 'under'.
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