#24 Iowa visits #7 Penn State on Saturday (9/23/23) in a Big Ten clash. Find a full matchup preview below with the latest odds. You can also find our best bet for Iowa State Vs. Penn State which is Penn State -14.5.
Iowa Vs. Penn State Prediction & Best Bet
Last week, Iowa hung 41 points on a putrid Western Michigan defense in an effort to save offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz’s job – there’s a stipulation in his contract requiring his offense to average 25 points per game this year. Despite the success against a MAC team, I was left with major concerns about Iowa’s offense.
The Hawkeyes rank just 106th in offensive EPA this season and are 115th in success rate. The results have been ugly. Michigan transfer Cade McNamara is still recovering from a quad injury and his numbers have been awful. Starting running back Kaleb Johnson was out last week while star tight end Luke Lachley broke his leg and is out for the year.
Ready or not, here comes Penn State, and Happy Valley to be in full force for this night game. Penn State’s elite pass rush will swarm Cade McNamara and the environment will be brutal for the visiting offense. The Lions allow the lowest standard down success rate in the country, so Iowa will be living in long down and distance situations against an outstanding pass rush.
Iowa’s defense also appears to have taken a step back. They lost DL Lukas Van Ness and LB Jack Campbell, two first-round NFL draft picks, and CB Riley Moss, a third-rounder. The Hawkeyes rank outside the top 40 in defensive success rate despite facing three awful offenses in Utah State, Iowa State, and Western Michigan so far.
Penn State’s offense was unconvincing last week, and I still have questions about Drew Allar’s ability to elevate this receiving corps. However, the run game should be highly productive here. Kaytron Allen and Nicholas Singleton are one of the best running back tandems in the country.
Iowa’s inauspicious start to the season has gone unpunished, but that changes on Saturday night. Beaver Stadium will be in full force for this White Out, and I expect all of Iowa’s roster concerns to be put on full display. Iowa has won two straight against Penn State, but I expect the Lions to get their revenge in emphatic fashion.
Iowa Vs. Penn State Prediction & Best Bet: Penn State -14.5
Iowa Vs. Penn State Betting Odds
The spread for this game sits at 14.5 points at most shops with a couple of books setting it at 15. Of course, that’s over the key number of 14, so if you want to back Penn State, I’d recommend waiting to see if there’s buy back on Iowa. The total sits at an invitingly low 40 points, with the over a potential play here.
Iowa Vs. Penn State Key Matchups
These familiar Big Ten foes have rosters full of talent. Here, I break down some of the key matchups that will determine the winner of this matchup between Iowa and Penn State.
Nicholas Singleton and Kaytron Allen vs. Iowa’s Run Defense
Penn State landed two top 15 running backs in the 2022 recruiting class according to 247 Sports. Singleton was a five-star recruit and rated as the top back in his class. The running backs combined for nearly 2,000 yards and 22 touchdowns last season, and while neither has had a true signature performance this year, that’s about to change.
Iowa’s run defense has been surprisingly poor given their typical standards as they rank 88th in rushing success rate allowed. Expect James Franklin and OC Mike Yurcich to give Singleton and Allen tons of work on early downs to help keep the chains moving consistently. They’ll be the lynchpin of the Penn State offense.
Nicholas Singleton made insane plays as a true freshman last year🤧
— PFF College (@PFF_College) August 7, 2023
Cade McNamara vs. Penn State’s Pass Defense
This season has been a struggle for Michigan transfer quarterback Cade McNamara. A quad injury has impacted his start to the season – Iowa just ran their first bootleg pass on Saturday – and he completed just 47.4% of his passes against Western Michigan, a bad defense this year even by MAC standards.
Penn State’s defense will suffocate him in this game – the Nittany Lions rank fourth in EPA per play allowed via passing. Edge Chop Robinson, a likely NFL first-round pick, leads a ferocious pass rush while the secondary has reloaded around star cornerbacks Kalen King and Johnny Dixon. McNamara will be completely outmatched here.
Iowa’s also light on pass-catchers right now. They don’t have a wide receiver with more than five catches through three games while star tight end Luke Lachley is out for the year. It’s difficult to imagine them having much success moving the ball in this game, and McNamara is at a massive disadvantage here.
Penn State EDGE/OLB Chop Robinson (6-3, 250). Ball get off and effort are two traits that repeatedly stand out when watching his tape. He had an FBS-best 12.1% pass rush win rate last year. pic.twitter.com/a72bNAVCsQ
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) June 1, 2023