CFB Betting – Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes

Written by:
Phil Simon
Published on:

We don’t often say there’s a matchup of top-5 Big Ten teams that doesn’t include Ohio State. But that’s the case this week when the No. 4 Penn State Nittany Lions visit the No. 3 Iowa Hawkeyes in a critical crossover game. Penn State improved to 5-0 this season and extended its overall winning streak to nine straight with a 24-0 shutout of Indiana last week. Iowa hasn’t lost since last Halloween winning 11 in a row with Maryland the latest victim in a 51-14 pounding. The success of both teams can be traced to strong defensive units that rank in the top-5 nationally in fewest points allowed. I guess that’s why the total came in at 42.5, the lowest in any game for each team this season.

Penn State Nittany Lions at Iowa Hawkeyes
Date and Time: Saturday, October 9, 2021, 4 p.m. ET
Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
CFB Odds: Iowa -2.5, O/U 41.5
Penn State at Iowa TV Coverage: FOX

Odds Analysis

In a game that basically amounts to a pick ‘em the Hawkeyes are getting the home field edge as a slight 2.5-point favorite. The line has fluctuated since hitting the board at Iowa -3 getting down to -1.5 before taking its current number. Both teams have looked strong this season with big victories along the way. Penn State beat Wisconsin and Auburn covering both times and is 4-1 ATS. The Lions are 8-1 ATS during their current winning streak. Iowa’s only game as a dog was its biggest win of the season taking out Iowa State 27-17 while catching 4-points. The Hawkeyes are 9-2 ATS during their winning streak.

Penn State Nittany Lions

Unfortunately one of these teams might get the shaft when it comes to the CFP because of the outcome of this game. PSU goes on the road for the first time since opening the season with an outright 16-10 decision over Wisconsin as a 5.5-point dog. That game was a preview of what the season has become. The Nittany Lions played a strong game defensively holding Bucky to 297 yards and 11 first downs while doing enough on the other side of the football.

It’s been an inconsistent campaign for Sean Clifford and he’s gotten plenty of help from his defense. He’s thrown for 1,336 yards with 11 touchdowns, but a lot of that damage came against the likes of Ball State and Villanova. Last week he threw for 178 yards with three of his 17 completions for touchdowns. Clifford is better and the offense stronger with a solid ground game. Keyvone Lee had 74 yards on eight carries and the Lions amassed 199 yards on the ground.

It won’t be easy but a balanced attack will help crack the Hawkeyes defense. One thing PSU can’t do is turn the ball over. They’ve been good with only three giveaways, all Clifford interceptions. The Nittany Lions haven’t allowed more than 20 points in a game and rank third nationally conceding 12 points per game. And they’ve been good in the red zone allowing points on 53.3 percent of opponent’s visits with only five TDs scored against them in 15 tries.

Iowa Hawkeyes

We can talk a lot about Penn State’s defense and we can converse more regarding Iowa’s stop unit. Only two teams in the country surrender fewer points per game than PSU and Iowa is one of them. The Hawkeyes haven’t allowed more than 17 points in a game and rank second allowing an average of just 11.6 points. They also rank among the top-10 in total defense and rushing defense. Six interceptions and seven total takeaways last week helped Iowa take over as national leaders in forced turnovers, turnover margin and interceptions. Future opponents won’t be as generous, but the Hawkeyes have the ability to create takeaways with at least one in every game and three games with at least three turnovers created.

Maryland’s miscues last week led to a barrage of points, but there are still issues with the offense. The Hawkeyes rank poorly with an average of 320 yards and their 51-point onslaught has them averaging 33.2 points for the year to rank No. 44. Spencer Petras completed 21 of 30 for 259 yards with three touchdowns and the Hawkeyes covered the total on their own. Still, the UNDER is 4-1 on the year and 5-1 in the last six meetings with PSU.

Bet Penn State at Iowa at BookMaker.eu

It’s hard to see a lot of points being scored in this one with two of the top defenses going at it. And it’s not like either side has been lighting up the scoreboard offensively. With two evenly-matched squads going at it I have to look at the home team, and since the spread dropped below the key number of three I’m backing the Hawkeyes in a close one.

CFB Score Prediction: Iowa 20, Penn State 17

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