What a season it has been for the Hawkeyes, who have now climbed to #11 in the nation. With one of the best defenses around, it is hardly surprising, but it is impressive nonetheless.
Penn State is surely behind expectations this year, at #17 in the AP Poll with a 5-2 start to the season. There is work to be done, and if they can start fixing things this week, they may just have a chance at a playoff spot. Penn State is -5.5 over Iowa in this game.
Coach Kirk Ferentz has gotten his team just outside the top-10 and to a 6-1 start thanks to having the #5 scoring defense in the nation. Iowa is only allowing 14.1 points per game and beating opponents by two touchdowns on average. QB Nathan Stanley has looked impressive in 2018, with 1,559 yards, 16 TD’s, and only six interceptions. Toren Young has led the rushing attack averaging 4.9 yards per carry, something that has been big for moving the chains and creating short second and third-down situations. It also helps that they have defensive backs with hands like receivers, picking off nine passes in seven games.
The Hawkeyes also dominate with pass-rushing pressure, with four players having multiple sacks, led by six from AJ Epenesa, and five by Anthony Nelson. Iowa is one conference game away from Northwestern in the Big10 West and still has a good chance to catch up. A strong performance against Penn State would be helpful in preparing them for Purdue- and then Northwestern- in a game that likely decides the conference title.
After a strong start to the season, the Nittany Lions have fallen off a bit. Still in possession of the eighth-highest scoring offense in the nation at 42.6 points per game, they have lost twice and are all but out of the running for the Big-10 title. Not much of this falls on Trace McSorley (1,462 yards, 11 TD’s, 3 INT’s, 98 rushes, 554 yards, 8 TD’s), or RB Miles Sanders (119 rushes for 772 yards and 8 TD’s). This falls on the defense, which is allowing 22 points per game and is not backing up the offense when they need to. They just barely escaped from Appalachian State in the opener, and are just 4-2 in their last six. Not good for a team of this stature.
Shaka Toney is leading a decently impressive defensive unit with five sacks, while Yetur Gross-Matos and Shareef Miller are not far behind with four. They are going to need these guys to be putting the pressure on. Garrett Taylor and Amani Orwariye each have a pair of interceptions, and they will be counted on for their good hands.
Bet the Plus on Iowa
We’re picking Iowa (6-1) to get the W on the road at State College, PA, and improve to 7-1. Not that it’s really James Franklin’s fault, but this will be a loss for Penn State. They don’t have the IT they need this year.
Free Pick: Iowa +5.5
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