Iowa vs. Penn State Odds, Picks for Week 6: Our Best Bets for This Marquee College Football Clash (October 9)
David K Purdy & Scott Taetsch/Getty Images. Pictured from left: Iowa Hawkeyes running back Tyler Goodson (15) and Penn State linebacker Jesse Luketa (40).
- The biggest game on Saturday's college football slate is Iowa vs. Penn State, and our staff came prepared.
- Our writers broke down seven bets for this marquee matchup, rangind from moneyline picks to a double result exotic.
- Check out all seven picks for Iowa vs. Penn State below.
Iowa vs. Penn State Odds
-110o / -110u
|Penn State Odds|
-110o / -110u
Iowa City will be on fire on Saturday afternoon as No. 3 Iowa faces off against No. 4 Penn State. This Week 6 Big Ten matchup will carry plenty of postseason implications.
The Hawkeyes enter this game with their eyes firmly set on the College Football Playoff after dominating wins against Indiana, Iowa State and Maryland.
Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions have put their 4-5 2020 season in the rear-view mirror, dispatching Wisconsin, Auburn and Indiana behind quarterback Sean Clifford and a solid defense.
Below, our experts provide their best bets for No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 4 Penn State — one of the best games of the 2021 college football season.
Our Best Bets for No. 3 Iowa vs. No. 4 Penn State
Check out our college football staff’s best bets for Saturday’s Top-5 Big Ten battle between No. 3 Iowa and No. 4 Penn State.
Specific bet recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NCAAF Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.
|Iowa ML -122|
|Iowa ML -122|
|Iowa ML -125|
|Iowa 2H TT Over 11.5|
|1H Under 20.5|
|Double Result: Tie/Iowa|
Iowa ML -122
What will be the difference here?
The margins are small, but Penn State simply can’t run the ball. Good luck to Sean Clifford trying to consistently move it through the air against Matt Hankins, Riley Moss and the rest of the No Fly Zone in Kinnick Stadium.
I think Iowa has a slightly better chance of coming out on top of the turnover, penalty and field position battles and has a better shot of sustaining drives with key short-yardage pickups on the ground with Tyler Goodson.
I also was a huge fan of the more aggressive first-down play calling we saw out of Iowa last week. Lastly, the extra day of preparation won’t hurt Kirk Ferentz and company.
I also like under 42 (down to 41) in a game that will feature two stingy defenses that don’t allow any explosive plays. It’s going to be difficult for either team to sustain long drives.
Projected 15-20 mph winds won’t help either offense and neither will two punters with big legs who can pin each opponent deep.
Pick: Iowa ML
Iowa ML -122
Even though Penn State is 5-0, it’s not because of its offense.
Penn State can’t run the ball to save its life right now, ranking 114th in Rushing Success Rate and 115th Offensive Line Yards.
The offensive line has been the biggest problem, though, as it’s been getting no push up front and is having trouble protecting Clifford in the passing game.
Penn State ranks 64th in terms of a run-blocking grade, per Pro Football Focus, and is 87th in Havoc allowed, which is a major problem when facing the No. 2 team in the country in terms of creating Havoc. Iowa’s defense already has 16 takeaways in five games.
Even though Iowa’s defense is getting a lot of takeaways, it’s still not allowing opposing offenses to have any sort of efficiency, allowing only four yards per play.
The Hawks rank in the top 10 in the country in both rushing and passing explosive plays allowed and opposing quarterbacks have not been able to throw on their secondary.
Iowa boasts two of the best cornerbacks in college football in Riley Moss and Matt Hankins, who both are graded as top-10 corners in terms of coverage, per PFF.
On paper, Petras’ numbers aren’t up there with the top quarterbacks, but he’s actually been really efficient, and last Friday night was a perfect example.
Petras averaged 8.6 yards per pass attempt with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The biggest thing for Petras is he has to have a clean pocket. He has an 91.6 passing grade with a clean pocket but a 53.6 passing grade when under pressure, per PFF.
Penn State hasn’t been able to pressure the quarterback this season, as it ranks 70th in Havoc and 85th in terms of a pass rushing grade, per PFF. That’s good news for Petras.
The rushing offense in total hasn’t really been up to par, gaining 3.4 yards per carry. However, Goodson has been incredible, gaining 4.3 yards per carry behind one of the best run-blocking offensive lines in college football (fourth this season, per PFF).
Iowa is going to need to establish the run against Penn State’s front seven since its secondary is a top-five team in terms of coverage, per PFF.
I think the battle in the trenches greatly favors Iowa and will be too much for Penn State to overcome, especially in a hostile environment like Kinnick Stadium.
Pick: Iowa ML -122 (Play to -130)
Iowa ML -125
Kinnick Stadium plays host to a matchup of two top-five teams this Saturday afternoon. This contest will go a long way in deciding the Big Ten and also has major College Football Playoff implications.
When I look at both of these teams, the first thing that stands out is how strong both groups are on the defensive side of the ball.
Iowa has yet to allow an opponent to score more than 17 points on the season, and Penn State has allowed no more than 20, which came in a victory over Auburn.
Offensively, both teams are physical and try to lean on the running game to open up things through the air.
Jahan Dotson is the most explosive wideout option for the Nittany Lions, whereas tight end Sam LaPorta leads the Hawkeyes in receptions, doing a lot of his work over the middle of the field.
In a game that features two elite teams that play a similar brand of football, points will certainly come at a premium.
The turnover battle will go a long way, and the kicking game could loom large. Caleb Shudak is 8-for-9 on field goals for the year for the Hawkeyes and has looked very reliable. PSU kicker Jordan Stout has a big leg but has been a little bit less dependable when it comes to accuracy.
Ultimately, I’m rolling with the home team to find a way to win this football game.
Sean Clifford is going to have his hands full against a suffocating Hawkeye defense that makes opponents earn every single yard.
Kirk Ferentz has made a career out of winning these kinds of games in Iowa City, and it’s in large part due to the fact that his teams do the little things. Offensively, it might be ugly at times for Spencer Petras and the Iowa offense, but Tyler Goodson has the ability to wear opponents down over the course of a game.
Give me the Hawkeyes to grab victory No. 6 in their quest for a Big Ten Title.
Pick: Iowa ML -125
The atmosphere is going to be electric in Iowa City as two top-five teams are set to clash.
Iowa has overcome every task that has been thrown its way this season. The Hawkeyes knocked off two ranked teams in No. 17 Indiana and No. 9 Iowa State early in the season. They pummeled an undefeated Maryland team on the road last week by 37.
Once is a chance, twice is a coincidence, third time’s a pattern, and 16 times is a lifestyle.
Iowa has made a living this season with 16 takeaways to lead the nation. The Hawks have snagged 12 interceptions and own a plus-12 turnover margin. Iowa has capitalized on those opportunities with 68 points off the turnovers.
The Iowa defense leads the headlines in this matchup, having gone 27 consecutive games without allowing 25 points or more. During their 11-game win streak, the Hawkeyes have allowed just 12.8 points per game.
Penn State has already faced some solid defenses in Wisconsin and Auburn — games it was lucky to survive.
The running game hasn’t been particularly strong, averaging 3.8 yards per attempt this season. It will have no success running the ball against an Iowa defense that allows just 2.8 yards per carry.
Iowa dominated last season’s matchup, winning 41-21 on the road. It held Penn State to just 68 yards rushing and 1.8 yards per carry.
The Hawkeyes won the turnover battle, 4- 0, in that game, forcing two interceptions from quarterback Sean Clifford, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
We’re in store for a similar outcome here. The Iowa defense will shut down Clifford and the Penn State offense.
I’m backing Iowa to remain unbeaten in a game that could have College Football Playoff implications.
Pick: Iowa -1.5 (Play to -2.5)
Iowa 2H Team Total Over 11.5
By Doug Ziefel
This Iowa team has proven it’s a second-half team. It has scored a minimum of 13 points in the second half in every game but the opener, where it did all its scoring in the first half.
This matchup against Penn State has all of the makings of a defensive slobber knocker.
The wind is projected to be 17 mph, which is more than enough to drastically alter any pass attempts or field-goal attempts.
Now, the Hawkeyes are certainly not the best rushing offense, but they are better than the Nittany Lions.
The constant pounding of the run game wears down a defense over the course of a game. It’s much like body shots in boxing — if you keep digging to the body, you’ll eventually create an opening upstairs. In the form of Iowa’s rushing attack, its Success Rate will only improve later in the game.
The other factor into this play is the Iowa defense. The Hawkeyes are 11th in the country in forced turnovers. What is often a result of a turnover? Great starting field position for the offense.
Iowa has scored 68 points off of turnovers this season. Much of that scoring has been conversions by an offense that ranks 49th in red-zone efficiency.
Expect the Hawkeyes to get stronger as the game goes on and put the Nittany Lions away in the second half with multiple scores.
Pick: Iowa 2H Team Total Over 11.5
1H Under 20.5
If you’ve been paying attention to college football at all through the first five weeks, then you are well aware of the strength of the Iowa defense. It’s given up an average of only 11 points per game to opponents so far. It has also limited the opposition to 271 yards per game.
But while the Hawkeyes defense has been one of the best in the country, they have been able to stay under the first-half total in only two of their first five games. They’ve also done the majority of their scoring in the second half.
But the Nittany Lions have hit the first-half under in every game so far this season, and they have a strong defense of their own, limiting opponents to just 10.8 points per game.
The duo of these two shutdown defenses, along with the first-half under record of Penn State, seems like a recipe for a low-scoring start.
And if that’s not enough, the winds in Iowa City on Saturday are expected to be in excess of 15 mph. Don’t expect a field goal to be guaranteed points in these conditions.
So, I’ll be taking the first-half under, which is listed on most shops at 20 as of writing. Some books are offering 20.5, so be sure to shop around and get the best number. A number of 21 or higher would be ideal, but I have no hesitation on this number at 20.
Pick: 1H Under 20.5 (Play to 20)
Double Result: Tie/Iowa (+1100)
Most books have this game as a near coin flip, with Iowa going off between -1.5 to -2.5 across all markets. My power rankings concur, and I believe we’re in for a low-scoring game that presents two angles on this game.
The first is obviously playing the total of under 41. I think there’s also value in playing the under on the alternate total at 38.5 (+140).
But I was surprised to see both double-result markets — Tie/Iowa and Tie/Penn State — offering odds in excess of 10:1. With points coming at a premium and head coaches who have demonstrated conversative game plans in the past, I believe that a tie is absolutely on the table at halftime.
The Nittany Lions entered the locker room against Wisconsin in Week 1 deadlocked at 0-0, and with a first-half total of 20.5 set in this one, I foresee a similar outcome.
It helps that both teams trot out fairly reliable placekickers. Penn State’s Jordan Stout is 5-for-7 inside of 50 yards, while Iowa’s Caleb Shudak has been perfect on extra points and all seven of his attempts inside of 50 yards.
The second part of this equation is an Iowa victory in the final 30 minutes of play.
Iowa is tied with Georgia for the fewest second-half points allowed this season at 3.4 points per game. It hasn’t been pretty offensively by any stretch, but Iowa has put teams away down the stretch.
I would play this exotic down to 10:1.