Penn State vs. Iowa: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (10/9/21)

Penn State vs. Iowa Betting Odds

While there are plenty of excellent, entertaining games on Saturday’s college football card, none have farther-reaching implications than this game.

Penn State and Iowa are both undefeated Big Ten teams ranked in the top five. This game could decide things from the Big Ten championship to the College Football Playoff.

But for now, it just decides which team is going to move to 6-0. And 5-1 against the spread (ATS).

Iowa is a small home favorite, with the line hovering between -1.5 and -3. The total opened at 42.5 but has since been bet down to 41.

Penn State Nittany Lions Odds

After beating Wisconsin outright in Week 1 as 5.5-point underdogs, Penn State has received the respect it deserves.

But it’s not because of the offense. Penn State cannot move the ball on a consistent basis, and their rush game is non-existent (114th in Rush Success Rate, 115th in Offensive Line Yards).

However, there is one, very specific way the Nittany Lions score points: Sean Clifford to Jahan Dotson.

Dotson is one of the best wide receivers in college football, likely to be one of the top wideouts taken in the 2022 draft. He’s made 35 receptions this year with an average depth of reception over 10 yards.

So, whenever Penn State has needed a few yards, they tend to find their explosiveness through Dotson. Because this offense has nothing outside of that.

The secondary is where this team makes their money. Penn State grades out at third in PFF’s coverage grades, with Jaquan Brisker leading the way.

While the Nittany Lions will allow some nickel-and-dime plays underneath (they rank outside the top 40 in Rush Success Rate), they’re very good at not breaking. Penn State is one of the best defenses in Redzone efficiency and allowing Big Plays.

Iowa Hawkeyes Odds

The Hawkeyes can run the ball. While they are averaging just 3.4 yards per carry as a team, lead back Tyler Goodson is averaging 4.3 yards per carry, and the offensive line grades out as fourth in the nation in rush blocking, per PFF.

However, Spencer Petras is a weakness. With him under center, Iowa just can’t create enough explosiveness.

But, if you keep his pocket clean, Petras will be efficient. He’s completed 70% of his passes for 7.9 yards per attempt when kept clean, but just 36% of his passes for 7.3 yards per attempt when under pressure.

Look, Iowa’s offense is lame. But their defense is not just legit, it’s flashy. The Hawkeyes have forced 18 turnovers through their first five games, including seven last week against Taulia Tagovailoa (who had previously posted zero Turnover Worthy Plays) and Maryland.

But this unit doesn’t just force turnovers, the Hawkeyes are crazy efficient on that end as well.

Iowa’s a top-20 defense by most meaningful metrics, but they’re particularly effective in avoiding chunk plays. Behind CBs Riley Moss and Matt Hankins – both of whom rank inside PFF’s top-10 cornerback grades – Iowa ranks 11th in Defensive Passing Explosiveness and first in Defensive Rushing Explosiveness.

Prediction and Pick 

My Pick: Penn State +2 (-110), Under 41 (-110)

We are in for a disgusting Big Ten matchup.

Neither of these offenses can move the ball consistently, and both have major weaknesses. Meanwhile, these are two of the best defenses in college football, and they’re both particularly adept at avoiding explosive plays.

I don’t think this game goes above 30 points – hence why I’ll be on the under. Given that, I’d rather be taking points than laying them. However, I do think Penn State has some slight advantages, particularly on the offensive end, where the Nittany Lions are just more explosive.

I personally make this game a pick’em, and I will happily take the value with Penn State in what’s sure to be a super low-scoring affair.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

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