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Staff Predictions: No. 12 Penn State vs Iowa

Saturday’s contest against the Iowa Hawkeyes might be the biggest game the Lions play all year. That’s because it is the most important game they’ll play all year.

The Nittany Lions have a chance to do something very special this season, but that won’t happen unless the Lions keep their winning streak alive. Take a look at what our staff thinks about the team’s chances on Saturday.

Mitch Stewart: Penn State 27, Iowa 16

A ranked Penn State against an unranked Iowa just sounds like a recipe for disaster (see 2008 and 2009), and the Nittany Lions definitely should take this game very carefully. Iowa has a solid defense, which we saw when they gave up just 17 points to Wisconsin two weeks ago, and is always very physical in the trenches. Although this has all the feeling of being a trap game, and I do think it’ll be a close game in the first half, Penn State should have this game in the bag. Expect Iowa’s struggling offense to be suffocated by the swarming play of Jason Cabinda, Brandon Bell, and Marcus Allen. Saquon Barkley will tack on another 100 yards and a touchdown to his season totals, and Trace McSorley will make enough plays for the Nittany Lions to pull away in the second half and when with relative comfortability.

Joe Pickard: Penn State 31, Iowa 20

Penn State has a lot to prove this weekend after being ranked No. 12 in the CFP Rankings. A tough Iowa team comes to Beaver Stadium trying to play spoiler once again. I expect the Nittany Lions to start slow against a tough Hawkeye defense, but will eventually pull ahead in the second half. Expect the usual big plays from Saquon Barkley who have already proved they can play in big time games. (see: Ohio State) This team seems to grow each game, and I believe they have bought into Franklin’s process, which is a great thing for this young team. The crowd is sure to be 107k strong and wild as ever with all the buzz this team has been generating the past two weeks. James Franklin’s squad should be calm under pressure and handle business as usual and take down Iowa while covering the +7.5 point spread. The road to a great bowl is  here, so let’s see if the Nittany Lions can stay on path.

Anthony Colucci: Penn State 34, Iowa 13

Penn State has improved in new ways during each game of its current four-game winning streak. Last week proved that the Nittany Lions offense is simply on another level than the average Big Ten team’s. I don’t know what to think of the Hawkeyes because they’ve had somewhat of an up and down season, barely beating Rutgers but giving Wisconsin a scare. Because of the recent track record of this rivalry under these circumstances though, Iowa won’t be a cakewalk for Penn State. I think the Hawkeyes will keep it close early but as we saw last week against Pursue, once the Nittany Lions (by the Nittany Lions, I mean Saquon Barkley) get rolling in the second half, it should be an easy route.

Ethan Kasales: Penn State 37, Iowa 27

Though the Hawkeyes are 15-3 over the course of their last 18 true road games, Penn State’s offense is taking flight at just the right time. Saquon Barkley should keep up his gaudy production under the lights to break the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the second year in a row. Despite going up against a strong Iowa defense — highlighted by linebacker Josey Jewel and shutdown corner Desmond King — the Nittany Lions should put enough points on the board to withstand a late rally.

Robbie Rockwell: Penn State 35, Iowa 17

This is a very bold prediction given the history of Penn State-Iowa but after the last two weeks, I have so much faith in Penn State coming into this matchup. The attack was outstanding last week and I’m fairly certain that momentum will carry to Saturday night, with McSorley connecting with Hamilton for a score, as well as Godwin. Barkley will be run early and often and will have himself another great day, at least 100 yards and one score.
On defense, look for the linebackers to continue their dominance as well as the pass rush. CJ Beathard is a pocket passing quarterback which heavily favors Penn State’s stingy pass defense and powerful pass rush. Beathard will be pressured all night and may cough it up once as well. I’m pretty confident in a Penn State victory but also this is college football and strange things happen.

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