Iowa vs Penn State Predictions & Bets

Last Updated: Sep 22, 2023

It’s officially time for an iconic “White Out” as No. 24 Iowa visits Happy Valley for an intriguing Big Ten showdown with No. 7 Penn State.

Even in a packed Week 4 slate, this matchup stands out as being one of the best. The first game against ranked opposition for either side, it represents a real test and a major tone-setter going forward.

Iowa vs Penn State Odds

Track our latest CFB odds for the Hawkeyes vs the Nittany Lions.

NCAAF lines used below for Iowa @ Penn State were current as of Sept. 20 at 8:30 p.m. EST on DraftKings Sportsbook.

  • Moneyline: Penn State (-650) • Iowa (+470)
  • Spread: Penn State -14.5 (-108) • Iowa +14.5 (-112)
  • Total Points: Over 40 (-110) • Under 40 (-110)

Although both teams are ranked, there’s a clear favorite. Penn State is viewed as one of the true upper-echelon squads in the country, and home-field advantage can’t hurt here either. Beaver Stadium has a well-earned reputation as one of the tougher road atmospheres in the nation.

Iowa vs Penn State Prediction

SCORE PICK: Penn State 20, Iowa 13

This one may be billed as a clash of styles, and that’s accurate on one level. Penn State is 14th in the nation in per-game scoring, while Iowa sits at 74th. In light of the amendment that was added to offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz’s contract over the summer, he’ll be out of a job if the offense can’t average at least 25 points per game.

He’s above that line for now, but with the conference schedule underway, he’ll need every point the Hawkeyes can muster, especially against a strong Penn State squad.

Penn State’s much more potent attack is headlined by sophomore QB Drew Allar, a five-star recruit who’s in his first year as starter. While flashing the ability that made him such a prize for the Nittany Lions to begin with, he has absolutely shown his inexperience as well, letting inferior opponents hang around far too much.

Where these teams are very similar is that both employ a crushing defense. Penn State ranks third in the country with -0.31 EPA/play on defense, while Iowa isn’t far behind at 22nd. This one should be a classic Big Ten grinder, to the point where Penn State won’t score enough to pull away. I like Iowa against the spread, but I love the under.

(Find the top Iowa sportsbooks where you can wager on the Hawkeyes.)

Iowa vs Penn State Best Bets

Under 40 (-110)

DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 unit

The under is unquestionably the best play here, as so often is the case for games involving Iowa. We’ve already touched on the excellence of both defenses, but with such a juggernaut on the other side, what can Iowa do to limit the Penn State offense?

The answer is minimizing the Nittany Lions’ time on the field, preferably by hanging onto the ball, but at worst, by playing slowly to shorten the game. Iowa is well equipped to do this, as its offensive pace ranks 113th in the nation with 29.1 seconds spent per snap. Penn State isn’t greased lightning at 25.3 (48th), but that’s certainly quicker.

Another contributor to a fast-moving game is two run-first offenses. Penn State has run on over 54% of snaps this year – albeit often while winning big – and Iowa is just below 56% in the same category. This is going to be an old-fashioned slog, and I wouldn’t expect the scoreboard operator to be working too hard.

(Find the top Pennsylvania sportsbooks where you can wager on the Nittany Lions.)

Iowa +14.5 (-112)

DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 1 unit

This play is similar to the last one. With the clock expected to keep moving, there just might not be time for Penn State to turn it into a rout. That’s more or less what happened against Illinois, even though the Illini play at the 26th-fastest rate in the country.

If Illinois quarterback Luke Altmyer didn’t throw four interceptions, it’s hard to know if Penn State would have even come away with the win. The Illini played great on defensive, but they’re actually just 90th in the nation with 0.04 defensive EPA/play.

Iowa is much better defensively, and while quarterback Cade McNamara had a rough outing last weekend, he has the experience of playing in a College Football Playoff semifinal and isn’t prone to turnovers. Penn State will likely win this one at home, but Iowa should be gritty enough to stay within a couple of scores.

Iowa vs Penn State Same Game Parlay

Iowa vs Penn State SGP (+285)

DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 0.5 unit

  • Iowa Over 7.5 (-240)
  • Penn State Under 28.5 (-130)
  • Penn State 1H -0.5 (-360)

Our SGP for this game follows the same general principles as our individual wagers. Iowa will keep the margin respectable, but Penn State will never really be uncomfortable. In a great night-game atmosphere, the Nittany Lions should start off strong by winning the first half to deliver the most-favored leg of this parlay.

For the least-likely leg according to the odds, all Iowa has to do is keep Penn State under four touchdowns by some combination of slow pace and solid defense. Throw in the low bar of scoring more than a touchdown – a number well below the so-called “Ferentz Line” – and we’re looking at great value on a parlay whose three legs seem to have a very good chance of hitting.


William Schwartz

As a former athlete and lifetime fan, sports have always been a huge part of my life. I've written about them for almost as long as I've been watching and playing them, from a blog I wrote with a friend in middle school, to journalism classes at the University of Michigan, to today. I hope to bring you entertaining coverage, strong analysis, and profitable betting picks on any and all sports, whether it's MLB baseball, college football, European soccer, or anything in between.

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