It will be high-stakes Big Ten football under the lights on a chilly autumn night when Penn State travels to Iowa this weekend for a critical showdown between two of the nation’s Top 25 teams.
This isn’t the first time the Nittany Lions have hit the road to face the Hawkeyes with an undefeated record on the line.
Let’s rewind it back to 2008 when then No. 3 Penn State rolled into Iowa City in early November with an unblemished 9-0 record.
A week after securing a key road victory over No. 10 Ohio State, the Nittany Lions took a 23-14 lead into the fourth quarter before Iowa found the endzone shrink the deficit to two.
Then, they engineered a methodical 15-play drive that ended with this dagger:
.@HawkeyeFootball is no stranger to sending a highly ranked Penn State home with an "L."
Daniel Murray's 2008 game-winning FG is one of several examples. pic.twitter.com/dLGgVmNaIt
— Iowa On BTN (@IowaOnBTN) October 7, 2019
That kick not only ended Penn State’s undefeated run but also its national title dreams that season.
While the current expectations may not be quite as high for this year’s team, a dominant 5-0 start in which James Franklin’s squad has obliterated the opposition by a combined 235-37 margin has Penn State into the AP and Coaches Poll Top 10 and thinking big.
Meanwhile, No. 17 Iowa will look to rebound after its offense committed more turnovers (four) than it scored points (three) in a sloppy loss at Michigan last Saturday.
Will the Nittany Lions stay perfect (and cover the spread) ahead of their “White Out” game against rival Michigan next week, or will Iowa once again spoil Penn State’s party? Let’s get into it with our Penn State vs. Iowa betting preview.
How to Bet on Penn State vs. Iowa
At a very young age, my grandfather sat me down on his lap, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Kid, just remember–it’s not what you bet, it’s where you bet.”
Actually, that didn’t happen. But it’s great advice.
Among the bet boosts for Penn State-Iowa are four same-game parlay options:
- Iowa +3.5 and under 41.5 points (+250)
- Penn State -3.5 and under 41.5 (+275)
- Penn State -3.5 and over 41.5 points (+250)
- Iowa +3.5 and over 41.5 points (+270)
FOX Bet also has Colin Cowherd’s Marquee 3 Super Boost, a three-leg parlay on Notre Dame (-10), Iowa (+3.5), and LSU (-13) has been boosted from +600 to +800.
For those of you in New Jersey, check out our comprehensive NJ online sports betting page that’s loaded with sportsbook reviews, generous welcome offers, and the best sign-up bonuses.
How to Watch Penn State vs. Iowa
- Date: Saturday, October 12
- Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
- Location: Kinnick Stadium Stadium (Iowa City, IA)
- Network: ABC
- Announcers: Sean McDonough (play-by-play), Todd Blackledge (analyst), Holly Rowe (sideline)
Penn State vs. Iowa Weather
While it’s always a good idea to check the weather before locking in a bet, it isn’t expected to be a factor in Iowa City on Saturday night with temperatures hovering in the upper 40s under mostly clear skies.
Penn State vs. Iowa Odds
Here are the current Penn State-Iowa betting odds at some of the top legal online sportsbooks as of 12:00 p.m. Friday afternoon:
|Penn State||-3 (-118)||-175||O 42.5 (-110)|
|Iowa||+3 (+100)||+150||U 42.5 (-110)|
|Penn State||-3.5 (-103)||-182||O 42.5 (-110)|
|Iowa||+3.5 (-120)||+148||U 42.5 (-110)|
|Penn State||-3 (-115)||-165||O 42.5 (-105)|
|Iowa||+3 (-105)||+140||U 42.5 (-115)|
Let’s see how the implied probability of FOX Bet’s moneyline odds stack up against ESPN’s FPI model.
Projection models sometimes skew data and aren’t always accurate predictors of an event’s outcome, but it’s worth a look at how the implied probability of sportsbook odds compare to a second source in order to see if there’s any betting value on the board.
ESPN’s FPI model gives Penn State a 67.2% win probability against Iowa, while the implied probability of the -175 moneyline price on Penn State at FOX Bet carries a 63.6% win probability.
In relation to Penn State’s FPI win probability, there’s some slight betting value on a Penn State outright win.
As for Iowa, there’s no value on the Hawkeyes at +150 moneyline odds when stacked against FPI.
Betting Preview: What You Need to Know
Penn State’s offense has lit up the scoreboard this season, but the defense has also flexed some serious muscle throughout its 5-0 start.
Penn State leads the nation with 25 sacks and has the country’s No. 2 scoring defense and No. 3 rushing defense. That doesn’t bode well for an Iowa offense that struggled to run the football and allowed eight sacks last week in a 10-3 loss at Michigan, though not every one of those sacks was on the line:
Iowa tries to run PA off their couple of ISO runs (who saw that coming) and with a mixture of great coverage downfield and Stanely holding onto the ball for an absurdly long period of time, Michigan gets the sack. pic.twitter.com/yljERhKKkL
— Michigan Football Breakdowns (@uofmcoachesroom) October 10, 2019
Despite its overall poor performance a week ago, the Iowa offensive line remains a talented group that is bookended by solid tackles Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs. Those two will need to hold up against defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos and Shaka Toney, who have combined for 10.5 sacks, in order to give quarterback Nate Stanley a shot.
Stanley was uncharacteristically sloppy last week, throwing three interceptions after starting the season with eight touchdowns passes and no picks.
With the Nittany Lions effectively eliminating opposing run games on a weekly basis, it will likely be on Stanley to move the Iowa offense with a quartet of receivers that have each registered at least 12 catches and 190 yards through five games.
Penn State has the country’s No. 13 scoring offense at 39 points per game and has effectively moved the ball on the ground and through the air at times this season, frequently hitting explosive plays.
Still, they continue to struggle on third down.
Of particular concern was the struggles of the Nittany Lions’ offensive line against Pitt and the unit’s struggles after the opening quarter last week against Purdue.
The Hawkeyes’ defensive front, led by defensive end A.J. Epenesa (two sacks), is one of the nation’s elite units against the run. How Penn State’s offensive line handles the challenge of dealing with a strong Iowa front in a hostile environment will go a long way in determining which team emerges with a key conference win on Saturday night.
Penn State vs. Iowa Betting Trends
Why Backing Penn State is a Good Bet
Big Ten Road Favorites with Short Lines Have Cashed
When two ranked Big Ten teams go head-to-head, road favorites of four points or less are 10-4-2 ATS.
When two conference opponents ranked between No. 10 and No. 25 play, the road favorite is 24-16-2 ATS. Specifically, Big Ten teams are 4-1-1 ATS in this situation when favored by four points or less.
Just Win, Baby—But Not by Too Much
Big Ten road favorites in conference games that are coming off a win of 30 points or less are 89-62-1 ATS.
Penn State is 13-4 ATS under James Franklin in games that begin after 7 p.m. (though only 4-4 ATS on the road).
Why Backing Iowa is a Good Bet
Penn State is 0-4-1 ATS as a road favorite of six points or less. In fact, this is pretty crazy, but Penn State is only 1-9-2 ATS under Franklin in road games where they are either favored by six points or less or an underdog.
Penn State is 4-13 ATS on the road against Top 25 and 1-5 ATS under James Franklin.
Big Ten road teams favored between 3-4 points are only 3-10 ATS in night games.
Iowa is 9-6-1 ATS as a home underdog in conference games.
Iowa is 7-3-1 ATS as an underdog in night games.
A Word on the Total
Penn State has been lighting up the scoreboard this season, but its offense stalled after a hot start against Purdue last week. Meanwhile, Iowa’s offense was a hot mess as week ago in Ann Arbor. The Hawkeyes couldn’t get anything going on the ground and quarterback was sacked eight times in between his three interceptions. That helps explain why the game total currently sits at only 42.5 points.
That said, I wouldn’t be too concerned with how each offense played a week ago. Consider the following trends:
- The over is 90-75-1 in Big Ten games when both teams went under in its previous games and 10-6 when the total is set between 40-43 points.
- The over is also 32-20 when two Big Ten teams went under by 10 or more points in its previous games.
- Finally, the over is 19-13-1 when the total closes between 41-42 points in Big Ten conference games, and it’s 63-45-2 in Big Ten conference games at night.
Penn State vs. Iowa Prediction
It’s time to make a Penn State vs. Iowa prediction.
I’ve had a decent feel for Penn State sides so far this season, going 3-1-1 ATS, but that one loss was a huge swing and a miss when I backed Maryland as a primetime home dog. While that game gives me some hesitation in going against Penn State against Iowa, I expect a different outcome this time around.
Ultimately, while I believe Penn State probably gets the nod on a neutral field, Iowa’s home-field advantage looms large in this game.
James Franklin hasn’t been able to cover on the road at Penn State as a short favorite or as an underdog, and I’m having a hard time overlooking his ATS road struggles against Top 25 teams.
I consider this one a toss up, but given that, I’ll grab the points with the home team.
Prediction: Iowa (+3.5) over Penn State