Penn State vs Iowa Preview & Free Pick [October 9th 2021]

Penn State (5-0) at Iowa (5-0)
When: Saturday, October 9th, 2021
Where: Kinnick Stadium,
Iowa City, IA
Time: 4:00 ET | TV: FOX
Opening Odds: Iowa -3/43

Two teams with long winning streaks will meet in a huge Big Ten matchup on Saturday afternoon as the third-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes host the fourth-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. Dating back to last year, the Hawkeyes have reeled-off 11 straight victories while Penn State is riding a nine-game streak. This will also be a matchup of two of the best defenses in the country which is why the total for this game is a miniscule 41.5 after opening up at 43. The Georgia Bulldogs lead everyone at just 4.6 points allowed per game with Iowa second at 11.6, followed by Penn State at 12.0.

Iowa is coming off a very impressive 51-14 win last Friday night at Maryland thanks to an opportunistic defense, while Penn State shutout Indiana 24-0 at home. Both teams are also averaging over 30 points a game. Iowa has forced 16 turnovers in five games and owns a plus-12 turnover margin. Penn State’s red zone defense has been a factor this season, allowing the opposition just five touchdowns in 15 chances. This is the third time in the last fours seasons that Iowa and Penn State have met as ranked opponents. The Nittany Lions lead the all-time series 17-13 but had a six-game winning streak against the Hawkeyes snapped last season, when Iowa came into Beaver Stadium and posted a 41-21 victory.

The Hoosiers managed to score 24 points against a very good Cincinnati team on Sept. 18, but couldn’t get anything going versus Penn State last week. The Nittany Lions suffocating defense should give Iowa some problems. On offense, quarterback Sean Clifford and wide receiver Jahan Dotson have been in synch so far this season and hooked up for two touchdowns against Indiana. They now have 18 touchdowns together in their Penn State careers. Clifford has 11 touchdowns and three interceptions on the season with seven touchdowns have come over the last two games. Dotson has scored at least one touchdown in every game and has a Big Ten-best 35 catches for 446 yards on the year.

Indiana is the one common opponent for both teams and Iowa’s win over the Hoosiers could be classified as more impressive than Penn State’s. The Hawkeyes scored more points (34) and had more interceptions off Michael Penix Jr. than Penn State, 3-1. As a unit the Hawkeyes defense leads the Big Ten with 12 interceptions and are the only team in the conference with more than seven defensive interceptions. Their pass rush also has already recorded 13.0 sacks while Penn State just has 8.0. On offense, the Hawkeyes are led by running back Tyler Goodson, who is sixth in the Big Ten with 86.0 rushing yards per game. Quarterback Spencer Petras has seven touchdown passes and only one interception and threw for a season-high 259 yards in the win over Maryland, accounting for five touchdowns, including two on the ground.

To me, Iowa has looked more impressive than Penn State up to this point. The Nittany Lions win at Wisconsin in Week 1 is looking less and less impressive. I was surprised this line wasn’t more like 5 or 6. I’m taking the home team here and laying the 2.5 points. If Iowa wins this game, the schedule sets up nicely for them to run the table to the Big Ten Championship game.

Pick: Iowa -2.5
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