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Penn State vs. Iowa Predictions: The under is the play

Kinnick will be buzzing on Saturday for #4 Penn State @ #3 Iowa
Kinnick will be buzzing on Saturday for #4 Penn State @ #3 Iowa
By Neil Monnery

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The biggest game of the BigTen season so far takes place on Saturday in Kinnick Stadium as two top four teams in the country face-off. Neil Monnery has an early look at the lines...

Going into the 2021 season, I’m not sure many people had the October 9 showdown between the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Penn State Nittany Lions as a clash between two of the top four ranked teams in the country. No wait, let me rewrite the opening to that sentence, no-one had…

Yet here we are as a dominating and suffocating Iowa defense welcomes in another dominating a suffocating defense in Penn State. Early hint - take the under.

Both teams are just stellar on the defensive side of the ball. A week ago going into the Maryland game, I thought this might be the time we see weakness in the Hawkeyes. Taulia Tagovailoa had been the most impressive QB in the BigTen and this was his chance to show off his talents against a really good unit. Fair to say that he failed spectacularly as the Hawkeyes picked him off five times (along with intercepting his backup as well).

It is at this point that I want to put a quick aside. Until Maryland shows me something different, they are persona non grata when it comes to big home games on a Friday night. 51-14 this year and 59-0 two years ago when Penn State rolled into town. Fool me once then shame on you. Fool me twice then shame on me. It is like when October comes around the Maryland football team turn into a pumpkin Cinderella style. I digress.

Spencer Petras is also showing signs of improvement in QB play. 21 of 30 for 259 yards and three scores is getting it done on the road. They spread it about in the passing game with no true WR1 but a bunch of really solid players who can create space and make tough plays. There is a lot to like about the Hawkeyes but are they really the third best team in the nation?

The same question can easily be hurled at Penn State but scrub out third and put in the word fourth. The opening day win at Wisconsin looks less impressive on paper now that the Badgers appear to be in a tailspin. You could easily argue that it was that result that sent them spiraling but that is conjecture. Auburn’s win at LSU certainly helps the resume somewhat but Indiana showed just how toothless they are in 2021 on Saturday. Yes the Penn State D balled out but Michael Penix Jr. looked a shadow of the player he did a year ago. Watching the game, you never thought for one iota that the Hoosiers were going to trouble the Nittany Lions nor even keep it close.

Offensively Penn State do struggle to run the football. The O-line has been more than adequate in pass protection but creating lanes for the RBs to gallop through has been a struggle. Noah Cain is dealing with an undisclosed injury and doesn’t look to have the burst nor the mindset to attack what small holes are being created. Expect a large dose of Keyvone Lee and John Lovett on Saturday afternoon.

This has all the making of a BigTen classic.

Spread:

The line has been set with Iowa a three-point favorite at home. I have this as a genuine pick ‘em game even with the Nittany Lions on the road. They did beat Wisconsin in Madison and this could be a real slugfest. This means I like the value of getting three points so give me PSU+3.

Straight-up/Moneyline:

PSU are slight underdogs so they provide the value in this market. +120 with BetAmerica is the top-price available as of the time of writing.

Over/Under Points Totals:

43.5pts and c'mon - the under. This has 20-17 written all over it.

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