When No. 10 Penn State travels to Kinnick Stadium to take on No. 17 Iowa Saturday under the lights in a battle between two of the Big Ten’s top teams, the Nittany Lions will be facing their first ranked opponent of the season.
Iowa is coming off a tough loss to Michigan last week where they could only muster three points. And playing against the Nittany Lions’ stout defense, they will need some kind of spark if they hope to pick up a big primetime win.
Penn State enters the weekend aiming to extend their win streak against Big Ten West opponents to 12 games. Coach James Franklin has led Penn State to a 3-0 record against the Hawkeyes, and overall, the program carries a five-game win streak in this series. It’s easy to see why Iowa would want revenge, so what’s on deck for this weekend’s prime time meeting? Let’s breakdown the matchup and make picks straight up and against the spread.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 12 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Kinnick Stadium — Iowa City, Iowa
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN
Penn State: The Nittany Lions have been putting up impressive performances on both offense and defense, but the latter has especially shined this season. Led by linebackers Cam Brown and Micah Parsons, Penn Sate’s defense leads the nation in sacks (5.0 per game), is No. 2 in scoring defense and No. 3 in rushing defense. In last week’s 35-7 win over Purdue, they tallied 10 sacks and 13 tackles for loss while quarterback Sean Clifford tossed for three touchdowns and 264 yards on 69 percent completion and added another score on the ground. As a new quarterback, new running backs and a new left tackle settle in on offense for Penn State, the Nittany Lions’ defense has stepped up in a big way.
Iowa: Iowa’s defense held Michigan to just 10 points last weekend, but the Hawkeyes offense couldn’t get enough momentum going to even score a single touchdown. The offensive line allowed eight sacks on senior quarterback Nate Stanley, who struggled under the pressure and completed just 23-of-42 attempts for 260 yards and a trio of costly interceptions. The Hawkeyes were held to one net rushing yard in Ann Arbor on 30 carries as their offense was obliterated while facing their first ranked opponent. Stanley’s blockers are suddenly questionable and uncertainty surrounds who should be his top targets. Iowa slipped from No. 14 to 17 in the AP Top 25 poll as a result and another loss could send them closer to an exit from the top 25.
Game prediction, picks
This conference clash will come down to which defense can control the night. The Hawkeyes offensive line didn’t look so hot last weekend against Michigan, as the Wolverines defense absolutely worked Iowa’s blockers. Stanley struggled under an endless array of blitzes and now enters this weekend having to face the Nittany Lions, who lead the nation in sacks. Penn State’s defense will provide another tough test for Iowa — especially given that they know the script against Stanley. This will be the third time Franklin has had to coach his team against the Hawkeyes’ senior signal-caller, with the Lions defense getting the best of him last year in Beaver Stadium. Pick: Penn State (-3.5)
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