Iowa Hawkeyes (3-1 SU, 2-2 ATS) vs. Penn State Nittany Lions (4-1 SU, 0-5 ATS), 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, October 8, 2011, Beaver Stadium, University Park, Pa. TV: ABC/ESPN
by Ryno, College Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: IA +4/PSU -4
Over/Under Total: 44
Penn State has not been typical Penn State this season. Yes, the Nittany Lions are still 4-1 overall with their only loss coming to powerhouse Alabama, the No. 2 team in the country. But narrow wins over Temple and Indiana don’t quite convince the Penn State fan base that their team is a contender in the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions offense has been putrid, scoring a combined 41 points in games against Alabama, Temple and Indiana. This weekend’s game at home against Iowa is a game PSU needs to win, but it’s also a game the Nittany Lions could easily lose.
Penn State lost 24-3 to Iowa last season. The year before, Iowa won 21-10. The Hawkeyes edged out the Nittany Lions 24-23 three years ago. The Nittany Lions haven’t exactly played their best football the last three years against Iowa. The Hawkeyes simply know how to beat Penn State. Will the trend continue this year? The Nittany Lions have scored a combined 13 points the last two years against Iowa and they haven’t been able to score many points offensively this season either, so it’s going to take a superb effort, even at home, to get past the Hawkeyes.
Iowa hasn’t been great this year either, but the Hawkeyes do have a nice win over Pitt three weeks ago, 31-27. That was a week after losing 44-41 at Iowa State. The Hawkeyes also have easy wins over Tennessee Tech and Louisiana-Monroe. This will be a tough road test to really show where their team is at, after a close road loss to a team they should have beat and an impressive home win over one of the top teams in the Big East.
Iowa is led by quarterback James Vandenberg, who has 1,095 passing yards, 10 passing touchdowns and just one interception this season for a 158.1 QB rating. Marcus Coker leads the way on the ground with 375 rushing yards and four rushing touchdowns. Marvin McNutt, Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley are Vandenberg’s top targets through the air.
Joe Paterno has alternated between Matt McGloin and Rob Bolden at quarterback for the Nittany Lions. McGloin is the more prototypical quarterback while Bolden is the bigger, more athletic quarterback. McGloin has 625 passing yards, four touchdowns, no interceptions and a 57.9 completion percentage. Bolden has 455 passing yards, one touchdown, four interceptions and a 45.9 completion percentage. Silas Redd is PSU’s feature back with 422 rushing yards and four touchdowns. Derek Moye and Justin Brown are the top wide outs for McGloin and Bolden. Moye has 26 catches for 443 yards and three touchdowns.
Against Pitt, Iowa did a decent job against Pitt’s star running back Ray Graham by holding him to 97 rushing yards and no touchdowns. Graham did also have six catches for 50 yards, so the Hawkeyes certainly didn’t shut him down, but they contained him to a degree. The Hawkeyes couldn’t completely stop Pitt’s passing game either, as the Panthers through for 255 yards and two passing TDs. Pitt receiver Devin Street really burned the Hawkeyes with seven catches for 138 yards and a touchdown. Iowa moved the ball well through the air as Vandenberg through for 399 yards and three touchdowns. Their strong passing attack and their three takeaways were the main reasons why the Hawkeyes were able to knock off the Panthers.
In Penn State’s 16-10 win over Indiana last week to open up 1-0 in Big Ten play, McGloin threw for 204 yards and a touchdown while Bolden through for 67 yards and an interception. Redd ran the ball well with 129 yards rushing. Curtis Dukes also added 54 rushing yards on nine carries. Moye dominated with six catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. The Nittany Lions moved the ball well and did a decent job defensively, but they couldn’t punch the ball into the end zone once they got into the red zone. They settled for three field goals of 33 yards or less.
Iowa State is 5-1 ATS in its last six games as a road underdog, but 0-4 ATS in its last four road games. Penn State is 0-5 ATS this season and all five of its games have gone under. PSU is 0-4 ATS in its last four home games, 0-4 ATS in its last four games as a favorite, and 0-7 ATS in its last seven games overall. Iowa State is 6-1 ATS in its last seven meetings with Penn State, including a 5-1 ATS mark at Penn State.
Ryno’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I like the favored Nittany Lions to cover in a very low scoring game.
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