Free NCAA Football Picks: Iowa at Penn State Odds and Expert Predictions
Iowa Hawkeyes at Penn State Nittany Lions, Saturday Oct. 27, 3:30 p.m. ET
The Big Ten promised to be a very deep conference before the season started, and it has mostly turned out to be just that - though not entirely in the ways that were expected. And both of these teams are in the mix - though again not in the way that was probably expected. Iowa has been stronger than many would have expected and has rolled through their last three after a home loss to Wisconsin. The Big Ten West is wide open, and Iowa is right in the mix - though they can only keep winning and hope for the best because that loss to Wisconsin could haunt them. Penn State, meanwhile, has seen their hopes of a divisional title, which burned bright before the season, all but evaporate with losses to Ohio State and Michigan State. But while they likely can't make things right for themselves, they can sure play spoiler down the stretch. They can ruin things for Iowa here, really mess things up for Michigan next week, and throw a wrench at Wisconsin a week later. But they will have to play a lot better in these three big games than they have so far in big ones, and they have to deal with a brutal stretch of games. It would be easy for them to lose focus or look ahead in this one.
Iowa at Penn State Betting Storylines
Iowa has three big factors going for them that have led them to where they are right now. For one, Nate Stanley is playing surprisingly well at quarterback. He had an off game statistically last time out, but the weather was a mess in that one. Before that he had thrown for at least 300 yards in four straight. He is playing with more confidence than anyone would have guessed. He isn't at the helm of a massively-elite offense, but it is a competent and improving one, and that's more than many would have expected in this situation - myself included. That leads to the second factor - the Hawkeyes are controlling the games in a big way. They own time of possession and can just grind things down and turn things out like they want to. It's tough for an opponent to score if they don't get the ball. And finally, the defense is playing very well, allowing the third-fewest yards in the nation. They are solid in general but particularly good against the run, where they also rank third nationally. Wisconsin was able to run on them, but no one else has. If Iowa can keep Penn State's offense off the field, and frustrate them when they do have the ball, then the Hawkeyes could be in good shape here.
A big question for the Nittany Lions heading into the season was how Trace McSorley would perform without his partner in crime, Saquon Barkley. McSorley wasn't just a guy who handed the ball off to Barkley the last couple of years - he was more dynamic than that. But losing a guy like that could really impact the swagger of an offense and a quarterback. And it has. While McSorley is running the ball well, his passing game is far from what it was last year, and he has yet to have a breakthrough game. Against the best opponents he hasn't totally collapsed, nor has he taken the team on his shoulders. The team needed a superstar this year, and they have had more of a game manager. This game again rests on his shoulders. The Iowa defense's strength is in the front seven, so a mobile quarterback with an arm like McSorley could do some damage if he can stay upright and find deep targets. And doing so is what winning is going to take.
Iowa at Penn State Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Penn State favored by four points, and that has climbed to 6.5 in early action. Nearly two thirds of all bets have been on Iowa, so the line movement suggests that sharp money has hit Penn State hard. The total opened at 54.5 and has fallen as far as 51.5.
The Hawkeyes are 8-1 ATS in their last nine games overall, have covered the spread in their last four road games, and are 4-1 ATS in both their last five conference games and last five against teams with winning records. Penn State is 21-7-2 ATS in their last 30 games overall, 12-4-2 ATS in their last 18 at home, and 13-4-2 ATS in their last 19 against teams with winning records. The home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
Iowa at Penn State Predictions and Picks
Penn State is probably the more talented team, but they are not in a good place mentally, and I don't trust their coaching staff to do anything about it. Iowa can set the tone in this game and have the ability on both sides of the ball to do enough in this one. Iowa may not win it, but they should be able to keep it close, and they are getting enough points here to make them the play.
Doc's Sports is offering a great deal for new clients - you can get $60 worth of free college football picks with no obligation. No credit card is needed, and you will never have to deal with a salesman. Get $60 worth of premium members' picks free . Also, get three handicappers for the price of one when you sign up for a full-season football package! Click Here for details . Get free weekly free college football picks at Doc's Sports free football picks page.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
Get all of this Weeks College Football Picks
Get all of this Weeks guaranteed Expert College Football Picks