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Staff Predictions: No. 4 Penn State vs. No. 3 Iowa

No. 4 Penn State football (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten) is heading to Iowa City this weekend to take on No. 3 Iowa (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten).

The Nittany Lions are coming off a dominant defensive performance that led to a 24-0 win over Indiana. The Hawkeyes dismantled Maryland last week 51-14 and forced seven turnovers against the Terrapins. Iowa’s blow-out win caused it to jump Penn State in the AP Top 25 Poll, going from No. 5 to No. 3.

The stakes are high, and most of our staff is confident James Franklin’s team will escape with a win.

Samuel Brungo (5-0): Penn State 23, Iowa 16

Penn State, Iowa, top-four matchup. Both teams are undefeated. Classic Big Ten defensive bout. I feel like Penn State has the edge on both sides of the ball.

I was feeling very confident about this game. That’s until I found out longtime Nittany Lion fan Megan Robert was going to be at Kinnick on Saturday. Megan is Penn State’s kryptonite on the road. She was at Michigan and Pitt in 2016, along with the Rose Bowl against USC. Additionally, she was at the Ohio State and Michigan State games in 2017. All these losses and countless others…I just got a funny feeling about this one.

But then I remember how damn good this team is, and I decided that Penn State, Megan or not, would win this game and come home victorious. Have fun, be safe. State by seven.

Frankie Marzano (5-0): Penn State 17, Iowa 16

I have a feeling that this will be a good ol’ fashioned Big Ten football classic. Obviously, these are arguably two of the best defenses in the country, but they play different styles.

The run game may have had its breakthrough last week against Indiana, and Sean Clifford is still playing like the, *checks notes*, most confident quarterback in the country. It won’t be easy, and it will be stressful, but Penn State will break the hearts of fans in Kinnick yet again.

Nolan Wick (4-0): Penn State 14, Iowa 13

My mom is a Iowa alum, which makes this an even bigger deal to me. Penn State leads Iowa 17-13 in this series and won its last three games at Kinnick Stadium, which is one of America’s toughest venues to play in as the away team. So far, Iowa has been more convincing, dominating opponents like Maryland and Iowa State.

However, Penn State has thrived under a tougher schedule. This is a coin-flip game, and we all know its implications. Sorry, not sorry mom, but I’m manifesting a Penn State victory in nail-biter fashion with some Sean Clifford to Jahan Dotson magic.

Ethan Bell (3-0): Penn State 17, Iowa 13

Expect a defensive, Big Ten bloodbath when the Nittany Lions meet the Hawkeyes in Iowa City this weekend. It will be an extremely tense game the whole time, and I can see a back-and-forth affair where the Nittany Lions win the game on a last-second field goal by Jordan Stout. Penn State will play in its closest game of the year so far, but it will not lose quite yet.

Sam Fremin (2-0): Penn State 23, Iowa 21

While Iowa has two ranked wins under its belt, they came against an Indiana team that hasn’t lived up to its preseason ranking, and an Iowa State team that now ranks fifth in the Big 12. Penn State will serve as Iowa’s strongest opponent to date by a long shot. 

This game is going to be a war of attrition. In a game with very similar-caliber talents, I expect the team that makes the fewest mistakes to come away with the W. For all of its faults, Penn State’s offense has done an excellent job protecting the ball. If Sean Clifford can continue his good decision-making, and the rest of the team can maintain its goose egg in the lost fumbles column, I give the Nittany Lions a slight edge, though it may not be pretty.

Charles Reinert (5-0): Iowa 14, Penn State 10

Man, I hate to do this. However, I got to take the Hawkeyes this week. Penn State and Iowa are very similar teams, both playing strong defense and having a knack for getting turnovers. I’m not expecting a lot of points this weekend, but the tension and urgency on both teams will be at an all-time high.

With a game where both teams are neck-and-neck, I just have to go with the home field advantage and take the Hawkeyes. Here’s to being wrong!

Gabriel Herman (0-0): Penn State 24, Iowa 17

Penn State’s defense has been rock solid to this point, and this is most likely its toughest test yet. High stakes, and an Iowa team backed by its home crowd. This is going to be an all-out defensive brawl. If the Nittany Lions can take some of the defensive energy from last week and channel it after a four-game stretch at home, I think they can handle this Iowa offense at Kinnick Stadium. 

I would like to believe this game will not be a blowout. However, as long as Sean Clifford continues to play smart and keep his solid completion percentage of 67.3%, I think this Penn State team will go 1-0 this week.

Devon Craley (3-0): Penn State 13, Iowa 10

I don’t think it’s a secret that this game is going to be close and low-scoring. Both teams are very potent defensively, and both have had their fair share of inconsistencies on offense. In years past, Penn State would most likely lose this kind of game, but I feel that this team is different from those teams in many ways.

For starters, this is the best Penn State defense I’ve ever seen, and quarterback Sean Clifford is playing the best he’s ever played while in Happy Valley. Penn State has more playmakers on both sides of the ball, and in the end, like it has all year, the defense will step up, and Penn State will enter the bye week undefeated.

Alex Petersen (0-1): Iowa 20, Penn State 13

A few weeks ago, I predicted Auburn would beat Penn State. I was wrong. It put me in good company with Gabe Angieri as staffers with a loss so far this year.

Nevertheless, I’ve come back with my second prediction of the year, and again, it’s a Penn State loss.

In my eyes, Iowa has the clear edge on defense. While I think Penn State’s offense to be better, I can’t help but think Iowa will pull this one out. I see Penn State’s lackluster run game, as well as its struggles against the run, being the deciding factor. Expect a close one, but don’t be surprised if Iowa comes out on top.

Connor Krause (5-0): Penn State 21, Iowa 17

In arguably the most highly anticipated matchup of the college football season, I expect Penn State to handle Iowa on the road.

Both defenses are extremely stout, as they rank first and second in the Big Ten with 28 combined takeaways. That being said, the Nittany Lions have a distinct advantage in skill positions areas, with Jahan Dotson and Parker Washington leading the way as the conference’s most-feared combination at wide receiver. 

If Sean Clifford can deliver to his playmakers in space, I think Penn State’s athletes will be too much for Iowa to handle. The first team to 20 points will win in what should be a classic, Big Ten slugfest.

Gabe Angieri (4-1): Penn State 16, Iowa 13

Here. We. Go.

Two of the best teams in the country are set to go head-to-head at Kinnick Stadium this Saturday. I think it’ll be a defensive showdown, with each team scoring just a touchdown each.

Penn State’s only touchdown will come from Jahan Dotson, and Jordan Stout will make three field goals, including a game-winner in the final two minutes, to give the Nittany Lions a slight edge.

Brent Pry’s defense will continue to do its job, and it’ll hold off a last-ditch effort from the Hawkeyes to close out the game. Get ready, folks. Penn State will be ranked No. 3 in the country at this time next week.

Ryan Parsons (5-0): Penn State 20, Iowa 10

Let’s do that Big Ten football, baby. This game is going to come down to protecting the football, and being explosive. I believe Penn State will do a better job than Iowa in both of those categories and outlast the Hawkeyes.

Everyone knows Iowa’s defense is sick. It uses turnovers and special teams play to make things easy for the offense, which isn’t quite as sick. I predict Sean Clifford will do a great job of protecting the ball, and the Nittany Lions’ defense won’t let Iowa get many things going. Jordan Stout will put Spencer Petras in hell and State College will celebrate.

Will Pegler (5-0): Penn State 14, Iowa 9

Iowa does what it does — that’s all we’ve heard all week. From my perspective, it looks like all Penn State will need to do to win is score two touchdowns at Kinnick Saturday afternoon. Sean Clifford is a veteran, and his experience has been apparent all season long. I believe he’ll be able to do exactly what the Nittany Lions will ask of him to escape Iowa City 6-0.

As for the Hawkeyes, they’ll score on a safety and a pick-six (a lone mistake for Clifford). This offense isn’t scoring on Penn State, sorry not sorry. Take the under and Penn State ML.

Matt DiSanto (4-1): Iowa 16, Penn State 14

You know, I just don’t know how to feel about this game.

I want to believe Penn State will stay undefeated. However, I feel like the Nittany Lions are about to come crashing back to reality at some point. Against Villanova, Indiana, and even Auburn, Sean Clifford could afford to make mistakes. Against this Iowa defense? No way, and that makes me nervous.

I got things wrong when I picked Wisconsin to open the season, and I’d love to be wrong again. Unlike Penn State, my season record doesn’t count.

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