Penn State-Iowa Betting Guide: Buy Low on the Nittany Lions?

Penn State-Iowa Betting Guide: Buy Low on the Nittany Lions? article feature image

USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Trace McSorley and Nate Stanley

Iowa-Penn State Betting Pick, Odds

  • Odds: Penn State -6.5
  • Over/Under: 52
  • Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
  • TV: ESPN

>> All odds as of 10 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time odds and track your bets

Penn State enters a brutal schedule stretch that includes Iowa, Michigan and Wisconsin over the next three weeks. Will this be the start of a resurgence for the Nittany Lions, or were their previous three games a sign of things to come?

Market Moves for Penn State-Iowa

By Danny Donahue 

Iowa has been a trendy underdog all week. Opening at +4 at Pinnacle, the Hawkeyes have drawn 69% of bets and 68% of dollars, yet they’ve actually become bigger dogs as the week has played out.

The under has picked up 55% of bets accounting for 78% of dollars, and this total has been on a bit of a roller-coaster ride. Opening at 54, it fell down to 51 before being bet back up to its current number of 53.

Recency Bias Influencing This Line

By Ken Barkley

Let’s start with some straightforward analysis. Penn State has looked miserable in the two games since the close Ohio State loss — losing outright as a big favorite to Michigan State, and then failing to cover a two-touchdown number against Indiana. Its margin vs. the spread does not inspire confidence.

Meanwhile, you can’t make Iowa numbers big enough. In the Hawkeyes’ last three games, they’ve beaten the spread by 10, 22.5 and 13.5 points, respectively, in wins over Minnesota, Indiana and Maryland.

They have started getting buzz as a potential Big Ten title game participant, mostly because Wisconsin has looked so listless against better foes such as Michigan. If there were ever a week where opinions were stretched far in each direction for both schools, this is it, and now the number is saying that on a neutral field, Penn State is only a couple points better? I really disagree there, and I’ve been anti-Penn State the whole season, so that’s saying something.

The only comparable game we have for Iowa against any opponent close to elite is the Wisconsin game, which Iowa hosted at night, and couldn’t win. Now on the road, I’m supposed to give the Hawkeyes this much credit?

This number seems short just based on that analysis, and in raw numbers I make it Penn State -6.5, so there’s small value there from that angle. With the raw numbers, keep in mind that Penn State’s metrics are being formed (partially) by games against Ohio State, Michigan State and now-ranked App State, which was crushing everyone in sight until Thursday.

I haven’t been dying to play Penn State this season, but this feels like a great one. I’ll take the Nittany Lions at anything less than a touchdown.

Barkley’s Pick: Penn State -6.5 or better

How Does Each Unit Match Up?

By Collin Wilson

I agree with Ken here in this spot on backing up Penn State, as the hate may have gone too far for the Nittany Lions. The key matchup is the Penn State 18th-ranked S&P+ offense against Iowa’s ninth-ranked S&P+ defense.

Iowa has the advantage on special teams, and it’s hard to ignore the fact that Hawkeyes rank first overall in the nation in defending explosive plays. Penn State isn’t bad at offensive explosiveness, ranking 14th on the ground and 41st through the air. Offensively, Penn State should have some success in the rush attack but won’t generate big plays. Expect Trace McSorley to be on the move often, as Iowa is 19th in sack rate on passing downs.

The difference in the side of the game for me is Penn State’s defense against the pass, specifically where it’s eighth against pass explosiveness. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley may have a rough day as the Penn State defensive backs rank ninth in the nation as a unit in Havoc.

As you shop for the best PSU number, the under might also be worth a shot. The teams have passing down run rate ranks of 17th (Iowa) and seventh (Penn State). Expect plenty of rushing plays in passing situations, which will help chew up the clock.

A Case for the Under

By Stuckey

I couldn’t agree more with Collin on the under, which I have already bet. Penn State has not been an efficient offense all year, as it has really missed offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead (and some guy named Saquon). Part of that also has been wide receiver drops, which have plagued them all year. It looks like wide receiver Juwan Johnson (questionable, will go), but that might not be a good thing as he has been the biggest culprit in the drops department.

PSU’s offense still has been very explosive, which Collin alluded to — but that’s exactly what Iowa defends as well as anybody in the country. The Hawkeyes simply don’t give up big plays.

On the other side of the ball, Iowa can’t run the ball — at all. It ranks 119th in the country in Rushing S&P+, including ranks of 115th and 120th in efficiency and explosiveness, respectively. The Hawkeyes have had a very productive passing game, which features future NFL tight end Noah Fant, but the PSU secondary is the strength of its defense.

Bottom line: both defenses match up well with each respective offense. Throw in some rain and this one is first to 24, in my opinion.

In regards to the side, I think you have to take Iowa — especially if you buy the under call, which would make the points more appealing. Special teams and pressure from its defensive front could be the two X-factors. I wouldn’t be surprised if the game plays out a lot like last year’s clash in Iowa City, which PSU won 21-19 on a last-second touchdown.

Stuckey’s Pick: Under 52.5

Trends to Know for PSU-Iowa

By Evan Abrams

Iowa is coming off its first shutout of the season, defeating Maryland last week 23-0. Since 2005, teams that shut out their previous opponent have been much more profitable on the road than at home the following week.

  • At home: 104-105-7 ATS (-7.3 units)
  • On road: 136-106-3 ATS (+23.8 units)

When that team is listed as an underdog on the road, it is 71-47-1 ATS (60.2%), profiting bettors 20.2 units. Since 2005, this trend has turned a profit in 10 of 14 total seasons.