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For Week 7, there will be four different college football matchups between nationally-ranked teams. Among the four is our game, a Big Ten battle between No. 10 Penn State and No. 17 Iowa. The game will be played in Iowa City at legendary Kinnick Stadium and will get the primetime ESPN treatment, with a 7:30 P.M ET broadcast.
Between the two teams, there's only one loss and both programs have outstanding defensive units. Both Penn State and Iowa are allowing less than 10 points per game on defense and have shutouts already against conference opponents. Their good defenses don't make them boring, though. Between them, they're averaging over 74 points per game.
First-Year Starting QB Leading The WayComing into the season, there were high hopes for the Penn State football program. Through five games, they've outperformed those expectations. The Nittany Lions haven't lost a game yet this season and outside of a 17-10 win over Pitt, none of the games have really been close.
When I look at Penn State's football team this year, two things jump out: the defense and their quarterback, Sean Clifford.
The Penn State defense is off the charts this year, allowing 7.5 points per game (No. 2 in the country). Combined, they've allowed just seven points to the two Big Ten teams they've played, which includes a shutout of Maryland, who was ranked this year, at their place.
As for Clifford, he has quieted all the questions of whether he could fill Trace McSorley's spot. He's done a great job taking care of the ball this year (two interceptions) and pushing it down the field. Clifford ranks No. 2 in the Big Ten in yards per attempt (10.7) and passing yards (1,443).
Iowa Needs Bounce Back WThe Iowa Hawkeyes are currently ranked No. 17 in the country after starting the season 4-1. They have beaten two Power-5 programs -- Rutgers, Iowa State -- but they lack a signature win. Last week, it was all set up for them to get one. Instead of capitalizing, however, the Hawkeyes were completely shut down on offense by Michigan, losing 10-3 on the road.
Iowa ran into a tough defense against the Wolverines, yet a lot of the blame has to fall on the offense. This is the Big 10, after all, and you need to be ready for good defense. Quarterback Nate Stanley threw three interceptions, two of which came in Michigan territory and one which came right after their defense forced a turnover. The interceptions were the first three of the season for Stanley.
Another unit that needs to get ready quick is the offensive line because Penn State's pass rush is for real. They allowed eight sacks against Michigan and there were also some penalty issues.
Iowa needs to play smart football against Penn State. They had a chance to tie the game against Michigan late in the fourth quarter, moving the ball to the Michigan 25-yard line on three plays. As quickly as they struck, though, the team fell apart. Iowa had back-to-back holding penalties immediately after, setting up a 1st-and-30, then the o-line got whistled for a false start and allowed a sack (12-yard loss) to force Iowa to punt. It was as ugly and self-inflicted as it gets.
- 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following an ATS loss.
- 3-1 ATS in their last 4 home games.
- 1-4 ATS in their last 5 meetings in Iowa
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
When Penn State and Iowa play, it's always a dog fight, especially in Iowa. In their last five meetings on Iowa's home field, the Hawkeyes have covered four times, with each cover coming in a game that had fewer than 50 points. You can see Iowa knows the formula to make these games close.
As for the quarterback position, the edge goes to Iowa. Not by a lot but Nate Stanley has been a part of these battles before. In his lone home game against PSU, Stanley took care of the ball (zero turnovers) and threw two touchdown passes. If not for a last-second TD by PSU, they would have upset the No.3-ranked Nittany Lions. Iowa covered nonetheless, losing 21-19.
Prediction: Iowa +3.5
Full-Game Total Pick
This line is way too high, in my opinion. We've got two elite defenses here, who combine to allow less than 20 points per game. On top of that, the public money is coming in on the over, a surefire sign that we seriously need to consider the under. Both defensive units are allowing less than 260 yards per game, so like Iowa's battle vs. Michigan, you can expect a lot of punts and field goal attempts.
Prediction: Under 42