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Penn State

vs.

Iowa

College Football

Free Pick

9/23/17

This game could end up being competitive, but it could also be a repeat of last season’s Penn State beat down. Both teams are undefeated, but the Nittany Lions have looked much better as Iowa needed overtime to get past Iowa State. And so, the Lions opened up as -11.5 point favorites as seen at 5Dimes Sportsbook.

The Nittany Lions have picked up where they left last season as they’ve run through the competition, easily disposing of all three opponents. Even the Pittsburgh game seemed worse than the 33-14 score line. When these teams met last year, Iowa had no answers for anything Penn State did. Saquon Barkley led the way with 167 rushing yards and the Lions ran for an incredible 359 yards as a team on 6.9 yards per carry. Against what was a solid defense, it was a somewhat embarrassing result. The 41-14 loss will be in the back of a lot of Iowa players’ minds, but will that matter?

The Hawkeyes either have a worse defense than a season ago or they just didn’t show up in their in-state game against the Cyclones. Like every PSU opponent this season, Iowa will have trouble containing anything Trace McSorley and Barkley do. The duo have been impossible to stop and with how last year’s game went, there’s no reason to think Iowa can do better. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that Iowa is at home and anything can happen. It was only a year ago that this team surprisingly beat Michigan and destroyed its hopes of winning the Big Ten.

But to pull off the upset, it’s going to depend on the Iowa offense, which is never a good thing to count on. Nathan Stanley has looked good in his first season as the starter with 10 TDs and only one pick, but he hasn’t faced a good defense yet. Beating up on teams like Wyoming and North Texas in addition to ISU isn’t that impressive. And for this one, he’ll likely need to break the 20-point barrier if the Hawkeyes are going to cover. This is still a run-first team, so the play of Akrum Wadley and James Butler will be important, but Iowa’s offensive line is not at the same level as year’s past. That’s seen in the team’s 3.8 yards per carry (sacks included).

In last year’s meeting, the Hawkeyes couldn’t do anything on the ground with just 30 rushing yards on 1.2 yards per carry. If that happens again, the chances will be long for Iowa seeking an upset or cover. This will be the first true road game for Penn State, but that may not matter much as McSorley and Barkley are plenty experienced and that shouldn’t worry them. Still, the Nittany Lions struggled in road games early last season, so there’s a small reason to go against them.

If Iowa’s defense can stall McSorley and Barkley just a little bit, that would be a start at keeping this game close. But to cover, it’s going to mean a much better offensive performance than last year. Either Stanley will have to step up or the running game has to find more room and right now, neither of those things are guarantees. Our Pick - UNDER 52.5

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