Staff Predictions: No. 17 Penn State vs. No. 18 Iowa

No. 17 Penn State will return to Beaver Stadium on Saturday afternoon when it welcomes No. 18 Iowa for a crucial Big Ten clash.

The Nittany Lions enter the game on a two-game losing streak at home, thanks to a pair of collapses against Ohio State and Michigan State. Despite the team’s recent struggles, our staff is mostly confident that Penn State can improve to 6-2 and knock off a ranked foe for the first time this season.

Matthew Fox (5-2): Penn State 24, Iowa 21

I really thought about picking against the Nittany Lions this time around. Penn State hasn’t played well in its last three games thanks to multiple issues on both sides of the ball. With that being said, I have a hard time believing Trace McSorley and Co. are going to drop a third consecutive game at Beaver Stadium. Maybe I’m crazy and this team is doomed, but I’m putting my faith in No. 9 to get the team across the line in this one.

Will Pegler (2-2): Penn State 20, Iowa 12

This game is going to be Big Ten Football at its finest. A cold, rainy day in State College should lead to a messy game against the Hawkeyes. The Nittany Lion offense still seemed out of sync against Indiana, but we did finally get to see Tommy Stevens add some value. I expect Stevens to score a big time touchdown late in the game, and Trace McSorley will put together a big game on the ground as well. Penn State should scrap its way to a much needed ranked win on Saturday.

Matt DiSanto (2-2): Penn State 27, Iowa 24

Although Iowa and Penn State are both high-caliber Big Ten teams, it’s hard for me to imagine the Nittany Lions dropping another game at Beaver Stadium. With a forecast full of rain slated for Saturday, Penn State will need to dominate the running game in order to emerge with a win. I expect Trace McSorley to start another touchdown streak and help his team grab a ranked win against the Hawkeyes this weekend.

Michael Kresovich (2-0): Penn State 31, Iowa 20

The Hawkeyes enter Saturday’s game with just one loss this year against Wisconsin 28-17 in a typical, low-scoring Big Ten game. On the offensive side, Iowa has a three-headed monster in the running game — three  of its running backs have rushed for at least 250 yards this season. If the Penn State defense shows up like it did against Ohio State in terms of pressure and creating turnovers, Penn State should get its first win at home since September 15.

Brian Bachman (3-2): Penn State 28, Iowa 24

I think Penn State squeaks by a quality Iowa team in what will be an ugly day at Beaver Stadium. Iowa is strongest on the offensive line, so the Nittany Lions will need another big performance from their defensive front. Expect a strong day from Trace McSorley on the ground, who will need to be at the top of his game under poor weather conditions. Look for some young wide receivers to finally step up, as James Franklin hinted this week we may begin to see more of those guys Saturday.

Derek Bannister (5-2): Penn State 27, Iowa 21

Big Ten football is back, baby! Just when you wanted bad weather and ugly football, you’ll probably get it on Saturday. Iowa’s pro-style offense isn’t the most exciting thing in the world, but it’s been getting the job done. Although the Hawkeyes’ running game hasn’t been great, Nate Stanley has been doing a great job of finding his tight ends for big plays. The Iowa defense has the second-best run defense in the country, but similar statistics didn’t stop Miles Sanders from running all over Michigan State. In the end, I think the Trace McSorley and Miles Sanders will have big games on the ground and will prove to be the difference in a close game.

Anthony Fiset (3-2): Penn State 24, Iowa 17

If nothing else, this game will certainly be a shit-show. Expect some good ol’ fashioned smash-mouth Big Ten football, as this game will be won or lost in the trenches. Cold and rainy conditions will keep the ball on the ground, but I think a dynamic backfield of Trace McSorley, Miles Sanders, and Ricky Slade will be able to chunk out enough yardage against Iowa’s stout run defense to take this one for the Nittany Lions. A fullback would definitely help Penn State’s cause, but that’s beside the point. It’ll be close, but I think the consecutive home loss streak ends at two games for Penn State.

Steve Connelly (4-1): Penn State 34, Iowa 24

Long story short: The Nittany Lions eventually have to grab a big win at home this season. Usually they get one shot at this. Somehow, they were given four big games in the confines of Beaver Stadium on their 2018 schedule. The result of the Wisconsin game is irrelevant if Penn State doesn’t pick up a huge victory at home on Saturday.

Anthony Colucci (0-0): Iowa 6, Penn State 4

The weather will suck, history repeats itself, and the least likely part of this prediction is Penn State’s defense being able to record two tackles before the other team can get out of its own end zone.

Andy Mollenauer (0-0): Iowa 30, Penn State 20

Having allowed a conference best 14.1 points against per game, Iowa’s defense will likely be a major roadblock for a struggling Penn State offense. Fourth down situations have been an obvious struggle as of late for the Nittany Lions, so it’ll be hard to rely on being able to settle for field goals as kicker Jake Pinegar is just 6-for-10 thus far. All eyes will be on Trace McSorley, whose rushing abilities could be a deciding factor if Penn State musters a victory. He’s out-rushed running back Miles Sanders in two out of the last three games, and Sanders has only surpassed 100 yards rushing in three of seven games this season. This could prove problematic against an exceptional Iowa defense, sending the Nittany Lions’ already one-dimensional offense into a more predictable frenzy.

Ethan Kasales (6-1): Iowa 34, Penn State 31

James Franklin had high praise for Iowa’s defensive line during his Tuesday press conference. I think the Hawkeyes will prove too physical up front for Penn State’s offense to run the ball with enough consistency, especially if the weather is bad.

Mikey Mandarino (5-2): Iowa 17, Penn State 7

Anybody who thinks that Penn State and Iowa will combine to score more than 25 points (let alone the current over/under of 52.5) is absolutely crazy. Penn State’s struggling offense, Iowa’s boring pro-style offense, and the forecasted awful weather make me think this game will be an absolute slugfest. The Nittany Lions finally got back to winning ways against Indiana last week, but their performance was less than convincing. I don’t think Penn State will snap its current Beaver Stadium losing streak, mostly because the weather will hurt Iowa’s rugged offense less. Take the under, folks.

Elissa Hill (5-2): Penn State 16, Iowa 10

Points will be at a premium this weekend. Penn State and Iowa have both looked sluggish on offense lately, and the weather will make throwing the ball challenging for Trace McSorley and Nate Stanley. Not to mention, Iowa has one of the stingiest defenses in the country, so don’t expect too many big plays from the Nittany Lions on offense. Although Penn State has had issues on defense this season, last week’s breakout performance by Shaka Toney and the front seven made me more optimistic about the unit’s ability to control the trenches and shut down the Hawkeyes’ running game — which will be key in a sloppy, wet game like tomorrow.

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