Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com

By Dan Kilbridge | | 6 mins

Penn State vs Iowa Betting Predictions, Picks & Preview for Top-5 Battle

Penn State vs Iowa Betting Predictions, Picks & Preview for Top-5 Battle
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It’s about time we all settled in for a top-five Big Ten clash that doesn’t involve Michigan or Ohio State.

No. 4 Penn State travels to No. 3 Iowa Saturday for the conference’s first top-5 game without the Wolverines or Buckeyes in nearly 60 years. Wisconsin beat Minnesota in that one, 14-9, back in 1962. Saturday’s game at Kinnick Stadium might look pretty similar.

While the schematics are different, these two teams are so similar in terms of what they do well. Elite defense and field position take priority over scoring for both Penn State and Iowa. This will be a slobber-knocker in the trenches that could swing on just one or two big plays, with the total set at 40.5 at DraftKings.

Iowa is a -1.5 favorite for its biggest home game in decades, and the betting action is nearly dead even on both sides for the 4 p.m. kickoff in Iowa City.

Let’s take a deeper look into the latest Iowa vs Penn State odds, the matchup and what it means from a college football betting perspective.

All college football odds are current as of publication. Betting sites may indicate odds changes closer to kickoff.


Penn State vs. Iowa Key Matchups

Sean Clifford vs. Iowa Secondary

Penn State has the slightly better offensive numbers coming into this one behind quarterback Sean Clifford. The senior has been mostly efficient with 1,336 passing yards, 11 touchdowns and three interceptions on the year. But he hasn’t seen a group of defensive backs like this.

The Hawkeyes give up a stingy 184.4 passing yards per game, and they lead the nation with 12 interceptions. Clifford can’t fall into the trap and give away possessions in a game like this, where every drive could make the difference. Clifford doesn’t need to pass for 350 yards. If he can just deliver on timing throws and convert a few key third downs through the air, it’ll go a long way for the Nittany Lions.

Iowa offensive line vs. Penn State defensive line

The Hawkeyes’ path to victory is in the trenches. Quarterback Spencer Petras is a game manager who’s not looking to do too much. He’s also been sacked 11 times and hasn’t had a ton of help in the run game, with Iowa’s offensive line not quite up to the Hawkeyes’ usual standards.

Meanwhile, Penn State has been very strong against the run and held Indiana to 69 yards on the ground last week. If Penn State’s defensive linemen can hold their ground and allow the linebackers to plug the gaps, they can force Petras into third-and-long situations and invite him to make the big mistake.

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4 Key Stats For Penn State vs. Iowa

11.6: Points per game allowed by the Iowa defense, second only to Georgia.

4.79: Yards per play from the Iowa offense, among the lowest in the nation.

12: As in a +12 turnover margin for the Hawkeyes, best in the nation.

3: Consecutive victories for Penn State at Kinnick Stadium.

Penn State vs. Iowa Weather Forecast

We’re looking at sunny skies and temperatures in the low 80s for kickoff. Winds up to 13 mph could make things even more difficult for these passing-challenged offenses.


Penn State vs. Iowa Moneyline

Iowa is currently a slight moneyline favorite at -125. Penn State is just above even-money as a +105 road underdog.

While spread betting has been very even, the majority of the moneyline handle is on Iowa so far. The Hawkeyes have won 11 straight games, and they’re usually a good moneyline bet at home. Iowa is 17-4 straight up at Kinnick Stadium since 2018.

Penn State has been one of the best road moneyline bets in that stretch, going 10-5 away from Happy Valley. They already pulled off an upset win in a hostile road environment in the season opener against Wisconsin, and we think they have value again Saturday as a +105 underdog at DraftKings.

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Penn State vs. Wisconsin Point Spread

The line was Iowa -2.5 early in the week and dropped to Iowa -1.5 Wednesday morning. It could continue to fluctuate in that zone prior to kickoff Saturday.

Penn State is 5-5 against the spread as a road underdog since James Franklin took over the program in 2014, while Iowa is 18-21 ATS as a home favorite during that time.

This is looking more and more like a toss-up as the week goes on, with Penn State maybe a slight favorite if this game were on a neutral field. Both teams have beaten quality opponents and demolished lesser competition.

We give Penn State the slight edge for a few reasons. They have the better quarterback and a slightly more efficient offense. The defense has answered every test and Iowa’s offense doesn’t pose much of a threat, as the offensive line isn’t dominating like they have in year’s past. James Franklin also seems to have Kirk Ferentz’ number, with a 4-1 record against the longtime Hawkeyes coach. We’re on Penn State +1.5 at BetMGM.

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Penn State vs. Iowa Total

You’ve got to be nuts to take the Over here at sportsbooks. The number is 40.5, and we’ve seen nothing from either team to suggest this will be anything other than a battle of attrition.

With a number this low, the total could obviously swing Over on a few chance plays like defensive scores or big special teams plays. But that’s not something you want to depend on with an over/under bet. We’re on Under at WynnBET.

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About the Author

Dan Kilbridge for Bookies.com
Dan Kilbridge
Handicapper Dan Kilbridge writes about college football, MLB and other sports for Bookies.com after spending three years covering Tiger Woods’ comeback and the PGA for Golfweek.