Staff Predictions: Penn State vs. Iowa
After a relaxing bye week vacation, staff predictions is feeling refreshed and ready to go for the next six weeks. Let’s jump right back into the action and see what some of our writers think about tomorrow’s showdown at Kinnick Stadium between the Penn State Nittany Lions (4-2, 2-0) and the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-2, 2-0).
Penn State 27 Iowa 16
Kinnick Stadium has been a house of horrors for Penn State over the past decade. Looking at this game before the season, I might have selected Iowa based on that alone. After watching both teams play six contests, I have done a complete reversal here. The records are identical, but the Hawkeyes are only averaging 22 points a game compared to the Nittany Lions’ 27. This is also not your feared Hawkeyes defense of years past. One month ago, they allowed 32 points in a home loss to a below average Central Michigan team.
The Hawkeyes to have momentum coming off a road win over Michigan State, but Bill O’Brien and his staff had two weeks to prepare for tomorrow night. That should lead to a fast start as Bill Belton scores his first rushing touchdown of the season. Quarterback James Vandenberg has been very underwhelming so far with only two touchdown passes and three interceptions. He will lead a few decent scoring drives, but it will not be enough as the Nittany Lions exit Iowa City with a victory for the first time since 1999 setting up the much anticipated meeting with Ohio State next Saturday.
Penn State 24 Iowa 13
The fact that Iowa is favored by 3 points in this game in Vegas is the most ridiculous betting line I have seen in a long time. Penn State is the better team, perhaps even by a considerable margin. The analysts will argue that “historically” Penn State struggles against Iowa in Kinnick Stadium, Penn State is still in turmoil over the sanctions, etc. Not true. Kinnick Stadium will be a tough environment during a primetime game, no doubt, but Penn State should be able to beat a deficient Iowa team that already has losses against Central Michigan and Iowa State this season, with near escapes from Northern Illinois and Michigan State.
Penn State 28 Iowa 13
I’ll say it. I think Iowa is a bit overrated. This team lost to Central Michigan, who later got blown out by Navy. The Hawkeyes scored 3 points against Penn State last year, so I feel I am being generous by predicting them to score in double digits. It will be interesting to see how this team reacts to a hostile environment, but Bill O’Brien will have them ready to play after an extra week of preparation. Zach Zwinak and the running game will chew up another Big Ten defense and seal the victory with a late fourth quarter touchdown.
Penn State 24 Iowa 10
Iowa is the most physical team Penn State will play to this point in the season, but it looks like bruising back Mark Weisman is going to miss the game with a sprained ankle. With that said, I would not be surprised to see Iowa look to pass more than they ordinarily do. The Penn State secondary is thin, but Iowa’s offense will not be able to take advantage of that as the rest of the defense– especially the linebackers– pick up the slack and defend the intermediate passing game well.
It might take some time for the Penn State offense to settle down in the electric nighttime environment, but they will get a rhythm going and ultimately have little trouble putting points on the board. Let’s not forget, Iowa lost to Central Michigan– the same Central Michigan team that has lost three consecutive games to juggernauts Northern Illinois, Toledo, and Navy. I do not see them being much of a challenge for the Nittany Lions.
Iowa 21 Penn State 13
I can ramble off statistics about how Iowa is not that great in most areas and how they will be in trouble without their starting running back. I could also talk about Penn State’s record against Iowa over the past decade (including a controversial overtime loss in 2002) but I won’t. Instead, I will sit back and pray for the best possible outcome, because in my lifetime, Penn State has never played well in Kinnick Stadium and has not been much better at home. I hate Iowa for what they have done to Penn State in the past.
Penn State needs its defense to show up like they have the past four games but even stronger, and with a higher sense of purpose. Northwestern may have been ranked, and Ohio State may be a week away, but a deep hatred for Iowa should be instilled in the heart of every true Penn Stater. For the Nittany Lions to win, the offense needs to be clicking on all cylinders.. Matt McGloin has greatly benefited from Bill O’Brien’s system. He needs to play an excellent game tomorrow night to come away with the road victory.
Penn State 24 Iowa 17
James Vandenberg mounts a late Iowa comeback, but a quick Penn State start gives the Nittany Lions a lead they can build on and hang on to for a tough road victory in a game not similar to previous match-ups between these two teams.
Penn State 28 Iowa 17
If I was a betting man, I would make a solid amount of cash this weekend.
The score will not get very high, but I see no extreme reason to be afraid of this Iowa team. Penn State’s defense will be the real winner this week with several sacks and forced turnovers. Michael Mauti will have another stellar performance, and Matt McGloin will again show us talent that we never saw last year as he sets a season high in passing yards.
Penn State 24 Iowa 6
When the season started, I predicted Penn State would go 9-3 and lose a close one to Iowa. Now, I don’t see that happening on Saturday. If Weisman does not play, Iowa has no offensive fire power. Even if he does play, he will be running into a stout Penn State defense. If Iowa wants win, quarterback James Vandenberg will have to beat the Nittany Lions. From what he has shown this year and from the match up last season, I do not think he can.
For Penn State, Zack Zwinak will continue to roll and pick up his third 100 yard game of the season. Matt McGloin will manage the game well and find Matt Lehman and Allen Robinson for touchdowns.