Pick with Analysis
Iowa still has hopes of winning the Big Ten West, but it has a long way to go with back-to-back trips to Penn State and Purdue. The Nittany Lions know they’re not going to make the Conference title Game, but could still make some noise if they keep winning. They were -6.5 point home favorites with an over/under of 52.5 (dropped from 54) as of Tuesday at YOUWAGER Sportsbook.
This was the matchup that Penn State shouldn’t have won last year, scoring on a last second touchdown pass. That said, the Nittany Lions controlled the Game with a 579 to 273 yard advantage. The problem was that they couldn’t put the ball in the end zone at a consistent rate. It’s a wonder if that’ll be an issue again because PSU has struggled to Scorethe last few weeks and barely got by Indiana last Game. Iowa is playing well, though has only played one legit team this year in the home loss to Wisconsin. Sure, its last few wins have looked great, but beating up on weak opponents isn’t the same as playing high-level teams like Penn State.
To win, Iowa needs to get more out of its offense than last year’s matchup. Their best bet is to attack on the ground with their three running backs in Toren Young, Mekhi Sargent and Ivory Kelly-Martin. The Hawkeyes are averaging just 4.0 yards per carry as a team, but PSU is allowing 165 rushing yards and 4.0 ypc and can be exploited. If Iowa finds room on the ground, that will open up passing lanes for Nate Stanley, who is coming off his worst performance of the season against Maryland. He has some big Games, but again, hasn’t shown much against better defenses that he’s faced.
But no matter how Stanley plays, this Game should be close because Penn State’s offense has lacked consistency most of the season. OUtside of a couple big runs against Michigan State, Miles Sanders didn’t do anything and Iowa has just as good of run defense, allowing 2.7 yards per carry and less than 80 yards per Game. If Sanders and Trace McSorley can’t move the ball on the ground, this offense usually struggles. Sure, they went for 295 rushing yards in last year’s meeting, but these teams are a bit different and that’s seen in McSorley’s production this season, completing 53.9% of his passes on 7.09 yards per attempt, which are much worse numbers than a year ago. This offense hasn’t looked good enough to beat a quality team by more than a touchdown. And while Iowa hasn’t beaten a quality opponent yet, it at least dominated Indiana, something Penn State couldn’t do last weekend.
The Hawkeyes are 8-1 ATS in their last nine Games overall, though 1-5 ATS in their last six Games on grass. The Nittany Lions have covered their last seven at home against a team with a winning road record and are 12-4-2 ATS in their last 18 at home. The under is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these schools played at Penn State and the home team is 4-1 ATS in that period.
Our Pick – Iowa +6.5