The #18 overall Iowa Hawkeyes (6-1) travel to University Park this weekend to battle with the #17 Penn State Lions (5-2). Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM EST at Beaver Stadium and the game will be available on ESPN.
Taking a look at the Week 9 college football odds, Penn State opened as a 4.5-point home favorite earlier this week. That line has moved by a full point after early betting, as the Nittany Lions are currently listed at -5.5. The total for the game is sitting at 53 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Penn State vs Iowa
Iowa won their third straight game last weekend after shutting out Maryland 23-0 to improve to 6-1 overall. The Hawkeyes were dominant defensively, limiting the Terps to just 115 total yards. QB Nate Stanley has had a fantastic season so far, throwing for 1,559 yards and 16 touchdowns in only seven games. Toren Young, Mekhi Sargent, and Ivory Kelly-Martin lead the way for Iowa out of the backfield, as the talented trio has combined for for 1,000 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. TE Noah Fant has also played a huge role on offense, racking up a team-leading 26 receptions for 316 yards and six touchdowns. As a whole, the Hawkeyes are currently averaging a respectable 30.6 points per game (57th overall) on almost 400 yards of total offense.
The real strength of this Iowa team has been their outstanding play on defense, as they have held opponents to just 14.1 points per game (5th overall). Teams have struggled to move the ball on the ground and through the air against the Hawkeyes, who don’t really have a glaring weakness defensively. They have been especially good against the run, surrendering an average of only 79.6 yards per game on the ground (2nd overall).
Penn State rebounded with a 33-28 win over Indiana last weekend after dropping consecutive games to Ohio State and Michigan State to drop back to 4-2 on the season heading into Week 8. It definitely wasn’t an overly inspiring victory, as the Nittany Lions actually trailed 21-20 at one point in the third quarter before scoring 13 unanswered points. They also racked up over 125 yards less of total offense and lost the possession battle by more than seven minutes. QB Trace McSorley has had a decent year so far, throwing for 1,461 yards and 11 touchdowns while also adding 554 rushing yards and eight trips to the end zone on the ground. RB Miles Sanders has been outstanding, rushing for 772 and eight touchdowns in just seven games. As a whole, Penn State is currently averaging a very impressive 42.9 points per game (9th) on almost 500 yards of total offense.
Things have gone fairly smoothly defensively for the Nittany Lions, as they are currently giving up 22.0 points per game (36th overall) on 392.0 total yards. However, they have had some struggles against the run, as opponents are currently averaging 165.1 yards per game on the ground (74th).
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Iowa +5.5
This is probably one of the most anticipated games on the calendar here in Week 9, as both of these teams are currently ranked inside of the AP Top 25 and are looking to keep moving up towards the Top 10. I think this game could easily go either way, as Iowa is certainly no slouch and is more than capable of winning this game outright on the road. I think the current line is a bit lopsided for my tastes, so I think the best value in this particular matchup is clearly with the Hawkeyes. There is a very good chance that this game turns out to be decided by a field goal or less, and having 5.5 points in my pocket feels like a great spot to be in.
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Iowa is a very impressive 4-0 ATS over their last four road games. They are also 3-0-1 ATS in their last four games in October and 8-1 ATS over their last nine games overall. Another stat that jumps out in this particular matchup is the respective ATS records of both of these teams so far this season – the Hawkeyes are 6-1 ATS while Penn State is only 4-3. The Nittany Lions are also just 5-10 ATS in their last fifteen games against Iowa.
Another important thing to remember this weekend is how both of these teams fared against Indiana this year. Iowa crushed the Hoosiers 42-16 in Week 7, while the Nittany Lions barely escaped with a 33-28 victory the following week. Penn State certainly isn’t inspiring a lot of confidence right now, especially with such inconsistent play on offense against quality opponents. In fact, they have yet to win a game against a ranked team so far this season, so I’m not comfortable laying this many points. I’ll take the road underdog to keep this one close – give me the Hawkeyes.