The Penn State Nittany Lions will take a trip to Iowa City, Iowa to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in a game between two top-five ranked teams looking to win the Big Ten.
The Big Ten got what it wants as they’ve put two teams into the top five, and Ohio State isn’t included.
This means that the Big Ten is starting to develop, and while neither of these teams likely stand a chance against the SEC powerhouse teams, it’s good to see the Big Ten represent this season.
However, if you’re looking for tons of offense, this game might not be for you. Penn State and Iowa have limited their opponents to an average of about 12 points each through five games, with Iowa actually limiting teams to 11.6 points per game.
Neither offense is going to “wow" you, but so far, these offenses have been getting the job done thanks to solid field position from their defense. In what appears to be an extremely close game, which offense steps up a tad more in this matchup?
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Penn State vs. Iowa Prediction
At first glance, this game between two top-five ranked opponents seems like an evenly matched game. Penn State and Iowa have been tremendous on defense, and while neither team has ridiculous offenses, they’ve gotten the job done in each game thus far.
Iowa is scoring 33.2 points per game but averaging just 320 yards per game. The passing game has been boring behind Spencer Petras, but he’s been able to protect the football, throwing seven touchdowns and just one interception on the year.
The Hawkeyes would much rather run the ball and have gained 126 yards per game on the ground behind Tyler Goodson and co. Goodson has five touchdowns in five games and leads the team with 430 yards.
Defensively, Iowa is in Georgia territory, allowing just 271.4 yards per game this season. Teams are struggling to gain much on the ground with only 87 yards against Iowa per game this season.
There’s nothing bad to say about Iowa’s defense. The tackling can improve slightly, but other than that, Iowa is for real on the defensive end.
The Nittany Lions, on the other hand, is scoring 30 points per game while allowing just 12 points per game. Penn State has had the more difficult schedule in comparison to Iowa with wins over Wisconsin and Auburn. Iowa has a win over Iowa State and looked their best last week against Maryland.
Penn State has more playmakers and a quarterback that isn’t afraid to sling the ball around. The Nittany Lions are asking for more out of quarterback Sean Clifford, and he’s delivered with 11 touchdowns on the season with 1,336 yards passing and three interceptions.
Just like Iowa, Penn State looks tremendous on defense and has allowed just 314.2 yards per game. At this point, I’d trust Penn State’s offense to move the ball down the field just a little bit more.
Petras is a game manager for Iowa and can’t be trusted in these types of big games to make big plays down the field as Clifford and Penn State can.
Penn State vs. Iowa Prediction: Penn State 21, Iowa 20
Penn State vs. Iowa Best Bets
Best Bet: Penn State Moneyline (+110) at BetMGM
Again, both defenses should show out in this game. However, the one area that Iowa has struggled in is pass protection. While Penn State isn’t dominant with their pass rush, they can make things happen thanks to one of the best secondaries in college football.
The Nittany Lions have more playmakers like Jahan Dotson, who has 35 catches for 446 yards and six touchdowns. There’s just more skill for Penn State to score against Iowa.
The Hawkeyes aren’t built the same and have to rely on their run game, and while they might have success, Penn State will be able to make the big plays down the field happen.
Best Bet: Penn State +2.5 (-110) at DraftKings
It’s hard to take the road team in a top-five matchup, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen out of Penn State more. Both defenses will do what they’ve done all season long, but if you’re counting on one offense to do damage, it’s Penn State.
If Iowa starts to trail and wants to throw the ball, Spencer Petras is not the answer. He’s developed a little bit more this year, but he’s had some really bad games last season with missed completions and poor reads.
Best Bet: Under 41.5 (-110) at DraftKings
I’m a fan of both of these defenses. Neither team is allowing more than 315 yards per game on the defensive end, and Iowa, along with Penn State, are both allowing 12 points or less per game this season. That says a lot, knowing both teams have actually faced two ranked opponents each.
I could point out weaknesses on the offensive end for both teams, but I’d have trouble finding fault with any group on defense for either team. The Iowa pass protection has been awful, and Penn State has struggled to block well in pass protection and the run game.
I’m projecting somewhere between a 21-20 game. That’s 41 points, so the total is set perfectly. But if I had to make a bet on this game using the total, I’ll take the under.
I don’t want to get caught taking the over with these two defenses going to work.