A Battle for Big 10 supremacy takes place tomorrow at 4 PM Eastern Time on Fox. The Penn State Nittany Lions head west to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in what should be a fantastic game. The Hawkeyes are favored by one and a half points over the Nittany Lions at most sportsbooks.
This game should be evenly matched, as both teams are similarly structured with a great defense and a balanced offense. Let’s break down each team on both sides of the football to see if we can determine who will come out on top.
Penn State Offense vs. Iowa Defense
After struggling in Week 1 against a stout Wisconsin defense, the Penn State offense has been steadily improving from week to week. Senior QB Sean Clifford looks more confident than ever, as he’s thrown for 1,336 yards and 11 touchdowns so far this year. The Nittany Lions’ passing offense is averaging 286 yards per contest so it’ll be interesting to see how they match up against a tough Hawkeyes secondary.
The Iowa defense is one of the best in the nation. This unit only allows four yards per play, which ranks fourth in the country (TeamRankings.com). They also rank second in points per game allowed with 11.6. The Hawkeyes defense is led by defensive lineman Lukas Van Ness (4 sacks) and linebacker Jack Campbell (46 tackles).
Iowa Offense vs. Penn State Defense
Iowa QB Spencer Petras silenced a lot of critics last week by putting up huge numbers (259 yards, 3 TDs) against Maryland. Most folks think of Petras as only a decent game manager but he proved last Friday that he has the ability to make plays in big games. Though Petras has improved a bit, Kirk Ferentz still prefers to run the ball with Tyler Goodson as much as possible. Goodson has 430 rushing yards and five scores this season.
Penn State’s defense is almost a mirror image of Iowa’s. This unit ranks third in the country in points per game allowed (12). They also rank ninth in the nation in yards per play allowed (4.2). The main playmaker of the Penn State defense is safety Ji’ayir Brown, who has 14 tackles, three picks, and three passes defended.
Our Pick: Iowa Hawkeyes -1.5
This should be a great football game and could be really low-scoring. We almost jumped on the Under, but the 40.5 number scared us off of it. We think the Hawkeyes get it done at home in this one.
Penn State has a slightly better offense but Iowa has a slightly better defense. We think Goodson is a little bit better running back than Noah Cain. We also love that Penn State is having to go on the road for the first time in over a month.
We expect Goodson to break a few big runs and for Petras to make just enough plays in the play-action passing game. This should result in a nice victory for Iowa. Our numbers say the Hawkeyes should be six-point favorites so we have no problem betting them minus the one and a half points. Good luck.