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|Penn State Nittany Lions||+2 (-110)
|O 42.5 (-1100)
|Iowa Hawkeyes||-2 (-110)
|U 42.5 (-110)
There’s plenty of reasons to like both teams in this game. Penn State has survived every test to date — against the best run defense in the nation and an SEC power — so the Nittany Lions have the confidence. Iowa has run over everyone in its path and is a juggernaut at home, but the Hawkeyes haven’t seen a team like Penn State yet this year. Neither offense will move the ball much in this one so in the end, we like the home team because of that crowd.
We’re taking Iowa money line and the under.
Garcia’s 2021 record: (10-7)
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The Nittany Lions continue to roll and take the college football world by storm, vaulting into the top three in the AP rankings in the country after a dominating performance against Indiana, winning 24-0 last Saturday.
Penn State has multiple signature wins this season, one on the road at Wisconsin to open the season, the other a 28-20 win over Auburn a few weeks back and in both contests, Penn State struggled to run the ball.
In the opener against the Badgers, Penn State managed just 50 yards on 18 carries. Take out the longest run of the night, a 34-yard scamper, and they tallied 16 yards on 17 attempts.
Things weren’t any better against Auburn, managing just 84 yards on 33 carries. Again, take out one 20-yard rush by the quarterback Sean Clifford and they managed 64 yards on 32 carries (two yards per attempt).
If they’re going to win against an Iowa team that is as fundamentally sound as any team in the country, Penn State is going to need to control the time of possession and keep the ball moving — that starts up front.
Few teams have done that with any success against the Hawkeyes. Iowa has yet to give up 100 rushing yards in any game this season, and on three of the occasions held the opponent to fewer than three yards per carry.
Success on the ground leading to wins isn’t a novel concept. Iowa will also need to be efficient and effective on the ground if it’s going to win this top-5 showdown.
The Hawkeyes already have a built-in advantage with home-field — that’s a big deal in this game, as both of these teams have two of the best home-field crowds in the country.
The Hawkeyes haven’t been tested all that much. They jumped on Indiana and Maryland out of the gate in both of their two Big Ten games thus far and in both instances the furious rallies were fueled by the defense. In the season-opener, it was two pick-sixes and last week the defense forced an incredible seven turnovers, so the offense has yet to be in a truly stressful situation this year.
Overall, they’ve definitely struggled on the ground though, rushing 187 times as a team for just 630 yards (3.4 yards per carry). Tyler Goodson is a top-end Big Ten back for Iowa, he’s run 99 times for 430 yards and five touchdowns this season.
He’s also caught 12 passes for 146 yards and a score.
Spencer Petras has an opportunity to prove that Iowa is a legitimate threat to win the Big Ten and he can do so with a big game. So far this year, he’s been a solid game manager, but nothing eye-popping: 85-of-137 (62 percent) for 943 yards, seven touchdowns and one interception.
He may have to be a bit more than that in this one.
Despite this incredible start, it feels safe to say the Iowa offense still has questions it needs to answer. Iowa’s leading receiver is Sam LaPorta, the tight end, who has 22 catches for 263 yards.
Iowa is known for getting most of its production from its backs and tight ends, but eventually, wide receivers will need to step up. There’s only one receiver on the team, Nico Ragaini, who has more than 100 receiving yards and he has 132 (an average of just more than 36 yards per game). It’s on Ragaini, Keagan Johnson, and Charlie Jones to step up.
For Penn State, Clifford can’t turn the ball over. He has to get it into the hands of his playmaker Jahan Dotson and then let Keyvone Lee get free in the backfield and break some runs.
That’s the obvious stuff. But this is going to come down to special teams and Jordan Stout is going to have a big kick in this one. So far the senior is 6-of-9 on field goals this season with a long of 50 yards and 18-of-19 on extra points. His accuracy could be the determining factor in this game.
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|Teams||No. x Penn State Nittany Lions at No. x Iowa Hawkeyes|
|Location||Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa|
|Time||Saturday, Oct. 9, 4:00 p.m. EST|
|How to watch||FOX|
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Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.More info on Tony Garcia
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