Week 7 Predictions: Iowa Hawkeyes

The real season begins for the Nittany Lions this weekend when they head to Iowa City to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Two years ago it took every second of regulation for Penn State to survive in Kinnick Stadium. The 5-0 Nittany Lions look to prove to the rest of the country that one of the youngest teams in the nation is for real. At the time this was written, Penn State was 3.5 point favorites. Here are our predictions:

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Brandon Musso (5-0) & (2-3) vs. The Spread

Going into this game, I believe this is Penn State’s first real test of the season. Playing  against Iowa in a prime time game at Kinnick is a tough task for any team. It will be interesting to see how all the young players on Penn State will respond to such tough atmosphere.

One of the keys to this game will be Penn State’s ability to get to the quarterback. Iowa relinquished eight sacks to Michigan last week and the Nittany Lions’ are coming off a ten sack performance themselves. If they are able to have the same success, it will be a long night for the Hawkeye offense.

In the end, I think the defensive line has big game to help shut down Iowa’s offense and the Penn State offense makes the plays they need to win a nail biter at Kinnick.

Penn State 20 Iowa 13

Kraigen Rasalla (5-0) & (1-4) vs. The Spread

The classic Iowa night game that will have Penn State fans on the edge of their seats and biting their nails is here. Every time the Lions head to Iowa City, no matter what record the Hawkeyes have, there is reason for concern.
Now, if Penn State was playing this game the week after the Pitt game, I would be VERY concerned. But, coming off two dominating wins against Maryland and Purdue, I at least feel a little bit better about this game, even if I don’t feel great.
The key will be having Sean Clifford continue his great play over the last two weeks. He has tallied 8 total touchdowns in the last two games and is leading a top five scoring offense in the country. But, Iowa has some fearsome defenders, including defensive end AJ Epenesa. If Clifford continues to be efficient, keeps Penn State out of third and long situations, and finishes drives in the red zone with touchdowns, not field goals, Penn State will win this game.
But, if the offensive is reliant on big plays, constantly in third and long situations, and only managing field goals in the red zone. Clifford may see Penn State’s perfect season come to an end like Daryll Clark did in 2008 and Trace McSorley almost did in 2017.
Do I think Clifford will be as good as he was in the last two weeks? No, this Iowa defense is #3 in scoring defense for a reason. But, I think Clifford will play well enough and allow the Penn State defense to continue their amazing play, as well.

Penn State 20 Iowa 7

Cory Lestochi (5-0) & (3-2) vs. The Spread

Over the summer I marked this game down as one of Penn State’s losses and I have been battling with this one all week. I can see reasons why each side could win. Statistically, Penn State should win by two touchdowns. But when Penn State and Iowa play you can throw out everything you know about football. The score will be weird, and the team that should probably win–won’t.

I was at the game two years ago and can confirm it is one of the wildest environments in the country. I also distinctly remember crying when Iowa upset Penn State in 2008 in Iowa City–I have nightmares about this place.

Last week, Purdue’s defense found success against Penn State when they kept everything in front of them and made Penn State drive the length of the field. That’s exactly what the Hawkeyes plan to implement and that terrifies me. I wouldn’t be shocked if the offense stalled. Penn State has the better athletes, they have the momentum, they have the stats on their side (Iowa is only slightly better in turnover margin), and they should win this game.

But I don’t think they will. I hope they prove me wrong, but I need this year’s team to win these types of games before I take them in them. Why I am at least optimistic that Penn State should win this game? They are bringing one of the best defenses in the country to Iowa and I expect Offensive Coordinator Ricky Rahne has a lot better cards than he has showed so far.

Penn State 15 Iowa 16

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