Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes Pick 10/12/19
Penn State Nittany Lions (5-0) at Iowa Hawkeyes (4-1)
When: Saturday, October 12, 7:30 p.m. EDT
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
Point Spread: PSU -3.5 / IOWA +3.5 (WagerWeb)
Total: O/U 42.5
Outlook For Week 7
Will the real Iowa please stand up? The Hawkeyes looked like they might be a legitimate challenger to Wisconsin in the Big Ten West through their first four games, but their offense completely fell apart in a loss at what had been a reeling Michigan squad. Now they face another opponent from the East — their third and last of the year, like the rest of their slate is nothing but Big Ten West opponents — and they’ve got to find a way to bounce back if they’re going to harbor any hopes of winning the division. Lose to Penn State, and not only would Iowa have to beat Wisconsin in Madison, but the Hawkeyes would need the Badgers to lose another game somewhere.
Penn State has no such concerns, but the Nittany Lions are about to hit a gauntlet in their schedule. October will do them no favors, as they’ll finish the month with consecutive night games against Iowa and Michigan, followed by Michigan State. If Penn State can get through the month unscathed, it will be on a collision course with Ohio State for the East crown.
But the Nittany Lions have to get there first, and traditionally against Iowa, that’s been manageable, but not easy. The Big Ten made the Nittany Lions and the Hawkeyes partners from 2016 until 2021, meaning they’ll meet every year in that stretch, and since then, all three meetings have gone to Penn State, with two of them decided by six points or less. The 2017 game in Iowa City was a true classic, as Penn State stole a victory on the final play on a Trace McSorley touchdown pass from seven yards out for a 21-19 win for the Nittany Lions.
How the Public is Betting the Penn State/Iowa Game
The line opened at Penn State -2.5, but the public has given the Nittany Lions another point. Meanwhile, the total has gone in the opposite direction, dropping from 43.5 to 41.
Injury ConcernsPenn State:
Wide receiver Daniel George remains questionable with a knee issue, as does Cam Sullivan-Brown.Iowa:
Offensive lineman Kyler Schott is questionable with a foot injury after missing Iowa’s past two games.
More Picks: Mike’s USC/ND Pick Against the Spread >>>
When Penn State Has the Ball
When you have a quarterback like Sean Clifford, airing it out is the name of the game, and Penn State has done an excellent job at taking to the sky. Clifford was instrumental in lighting up Maryland, tossing for 398 yards and three touchdowns against just five incompletions as the Nittany Lions hammered the Terrapins two weeks ago. Clifford has missed on only 14 passes in his past two games, and while two have been intercepted, they haven’t hurt the Nittany Lions, who have given up just seven points in Big Ten play.
This is a new test, however, as Iowa’s defense is every bit as good as Penn State’s and isn’t likely to let Clifford do much. Having a healthy Journey Brown would help a lot, but Brown has had just ten carries in the past two games.
When Iowa Has the Ball
Would the real Iowa please stand up? The Hawkeyes’ ground game looked like it had the potential to be one of the strongest in the Big Ten, and Michigan’s defense totally took Iowa’s ground attack out of the game. Plus, Michigan’s much-maligned defensive line easily won the battle with the Hawkeyes’ offensive line, leaving Nate Stanley often running for his life in Ann Arbor.
That’s a considerable worry for Iowa, given how strong the Penn State defense has been this season. The Nittany Lions average 3.75 sacks per game, which is eighth in the nation and more than twice as many as Michigan. Iowa’s offensive line has to be better than it was against the Wolverines to have a chance because if Stanley spends most of the game running backward again, Iowa won’t be able to establish either Stanley or running backs Mekhi Sargent and Toren Young.
Kinnick Stadium and Beaver Stadium are two of the most intimidating venues in college football, so it stands to reason that neither team plays particularly well in the other’s stadium. The home team is 5-1 ATS in their past six meetings, and for Penn State, the problems in Iowa City run deeper than that. 2012 is the only time in the squads’ previous five meetings at Kinnick, where the Nittany Lions have covered, as Iowa has either won the game outright or stayed within three points in four out of the past five in Iowa City.
These teams also tend to play low-scoring games against each other, with the absolute nadir being the infamous 6-4 win for the Hawkeyes in 2004. This game likely won’t set the game of football back centuries as that game did, but eight of the last 11 games between the teams would have come in under the 41-point total.
It’ll be perfect fall weather in Iowa City for this matchup, with temperatures slated for 51 degrees.
Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread
This game really makes me nervous, given what Iowa couldn’t do against Michigan. The Hawkeyes’ offense will never be confused with Oklahoma’s, but Iowa should have been able to put up more than three points on the Wolverines.
I think Iowa is good enough to stay with Penn State and even win this game, but I’d rather not take a chance on an offensive line that showed the kind of performance the Hawkeyes did against Michigan. Iowa couldn’t stop a front seven that hadn’t been putting up much resistance, and Penn State is a far more powerful defense than Michigan’s.
Even though I like Iowa’s talent levels, the thought of Stanley getting chased out of the pocket won’t go away. And if I can’t get that thought out of my head, there’s no way I’d want to bet on the team that’s on the run. Give me Penn State in a close one.
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