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The Pants Predicts: Iowa vs. Penn State

The Hawkeyes didn’t look great at Michigan a week ago. What is the staff predicting for Iowa’s matchup with Penn State under the lights this week?

NCAA Football: Penn State at Iowa
Kirk Ferentz has never beaten James Franklin.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

My what a difference a week makes. A week ago, the optimism was palpable as a number of us had the Hawkeyes going into Ann Arbor and coming out with a win. Not only did that not happen, Iowa didn’t manage to cover the spread. Thanks to that, only Matt C. came away with a point for his prediction.

Here’s a look at the updated standings for the year.

Ben - 3-2

DC - 3-3

Jerry - 3-2

JP - 3-2

Matt R - 3-2

BoilerHawk - 2-3

Doug - 2-3

Matt C - 2-3

Looking ahead to this week, the staff is a bit less optimistic. But in the end, the majority of us are still homers and we either have more faith in Brian Ferentz and this offense figuring things out than the rest of you or we simply can’t bring ourselves to expect losses before games are played. Five of the eight staff pickers this week have the Hawkeyes winning outright. Interestingly, though, the less optimistic group is significantly less optimistic.

What exactly does that mean? Well, despite 63% of us choosing Iowa to win, the average predicted score is Penn State 20, Iowa 18. That’s enough for Iowa to cover the 3.5 spread, but not enough to hit the 41.5 point over/under.

Here are the staff’s individual predictions.

JPinIC: A week ago I genuinely believed this team was going to walk into Ann Arbor and beat the Michigan Wolverines. The offense had seemed to hit a stride and my one concern was how the defensive secondary would hold up against Michigan’s talented receivers. My how things change in a week.

Now, the defense looks like another Phil Parker special and the offense looked totally inept. The popular call would be to say Iowa loses in spectacular fashion as the defense does its part again and the offense we saw a week ago becomes the only point of discussion the rest of this season.

That’s not at all what I expect. Instead, I expect to see this offense bounce back to some semblance of what it had been all season. That doesn’t mean I think they light up the scoreboard; this PSU defense is good. But I also don’t expect them to give up 8 sacks or hurt themselves with 8 penalties or to fail to get points 88% of the time they get into PSU territory. I expect them to simply look competent and not cost Iowa the game. And we all expect the defense to do what it always does: show up.

Iowa 17, Penn State 13

tnels20: Iowa comes off a disappointing game where the offense looks hopeless and then hosts a top-10 team at night. I feel like this is a nearly yearly ritual for Iowa fans. Penn St has an explosive offense with quarterback Sean Clifford averaging over 10 yards an attempt and top target KJ Hamler averaging over 20 yards per reception. Their defense has been eating up opposing offenses. This leads them to outscoring their two conference foes 94-7.

I think Iowa follows the gameplan of Buffalo earlier this year. The Bulls lead Penn St 10-7 at half before an early 3rd quarter pick-6 followed by a 1 play scoring drive flipped the game PSU’s way. In that game, Buffalo ran the ball 58 times and kept Clifford and Hamler off the field. I expect Iowa to run the ball in an attempt to protect the defense and play the field position game.

Can Iowa get to 20 points? I want to say yes, but I need to see it against a quality defense before I’m willing to expect that. The defense forces a big late fumble to give the offense a chance to match, but Penn St holds.

Iowa 17, Penn St 24

BoilerHawk: I can’t believe I fell into the trap of believing the Iowa Hawkeyes had a good offense. They’ve continually struggled against impressive scoring defenses and PSU is arguably the best they’ve seen in the last couple years. Maybe an Outback Bowl redux is in order against a young Nittany Lion crew but Brian’s unit has scored less than 20 points in 55% of the conference games he’s called. The salt in the wound is that Iowa’s 2-9 in them.

They keep it close because Phil is a god and Iowa probably wins if they score on defense or special teams. They’re lowkey due for one.

Penn State 17, Iowa 13

Mattcabel: Another night game in Kinnick. Black and gold spirit game. Sick winged alternate uniforms. A chance at redemption after an embarrassing loss. This Saturday at Kinnick has the potential to be special. But like they always do, I feel like the Nittany Lions will come into town and spoil the fun.

We’re officially in the ‘regression to the mean’ stage of this Iowa football season.

Penn State 31, Iowa 14

Doug: If the annual pattern holds, Iowa will win one that they probably shouldn’t and lose one (at least) against teams they shouldn’t. I’m going to put the Michigan game in the latter category and be the ever optimist that Saturday’s Penn State game falls into the former.

Iowa can win if they create a couple turnovers, limit penalties, and one more thing...BLOCK better. No one wants to be embarrassed and that goes doubly for 300 lb men. I think the Iowa o-line is going to come out inspired and frankly, mad against PSU and hopefully the coaching staff takes advantage of this and allows the running backs to churn yards behind the push of the line.

It will take a big effort from the crowd and catching all the breaks, but Iowa can and will win this one with a big defensive stand at the end of the game.

Iowa 20, PSU 19

MattReisener: I must be out of my mind for getting my hopes up after last week’s offensive (in every sense of the word) debacle. But this is an untested Penn State team coming into an extremely hostile environment against an opponent that KNOWS it has what it takes to play with them. It took truly heroic performances from Saquon Barkley and Trace McSorley (both of whom are among the best players at their position in program history) for Penn State to beat an 8-5 Iowa team in Kinnick two years ago, and Iowa was a few self-inflicted wounds away from pulling the upset last season in Happy Valley. The Hawkeyes are so close to breaking through against the Nittany Lions, and this game under the Kinnick Stadium lights might just be the year.

Penn State’s only game against a physical opponent was a narrow victory over a middling Pittsburgh team in which their vaunted offense struggled to put points on the board. Iowa is going to try to line up and punch Penn State in the mouth on both sides of the ball, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see their knees buckle a bit.

Iowa 19, Penn State 17

Ben: I just gotta believe Iowa wins this at home with Stanzi in the house. They just have to.

Iowa 24, PSU 21

Jerry Scherwin: I was in a bad place earlier this week. When Champ and I recorded the SpoCo Radio podcast we were pointing fingers in every direction we possibly could. It’s BF’s fault, it’s Nate’s fault, it’s Kirk’s fault, it’s my fault, it’s the offensive linemen as a whole’s fault. But ultimately, Iowa lost one road game at Michigan and learned a hell of a lot about who they are and who they want to be. That’s why I am, once again, taking Iowa to not only cover but win outright in the friendly confines of Kinnick Stadium. You don’t just come into Kinnick under the lights and destroy a Phil Parker defense. No sir. This is a statement game. A game in which Nate and Brian and the offensive line and the running game come together and show that they too can win a game for the Hawkeyes when the games on the line. This is our revenge for the McSorley game. This is our time to show everyone that one game is simply, just that.

Iowa 21, Penn State 20

That’s what we’ve got, what are you predicting?