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Iowa Football: Hawkeyes Open as Big Underdogs at Penn State

The Hawkeyes are staring at a tough matchup at #7 Penn State on Saturday night.

Penn State v Illinois
Can the Hawkeyes hang with Nicholas Singleton, Kaytron Allen and the potent PSU rushing attack?
Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Iowa Hawkeyes got off to a slow start in their non-conference finale vs. Western Michigan. The Hawkeyes fell behind 7-0 early and seemed to be sleep-walking toward another frustrating, disappointing matchup that was expected to be a blowout.

Then lightning struck within an eight mile radius and when the Hawkeyes returned to the field, they seemed to have been shocked back to life. The end result was the first true blowout win for Iowa in close to two years as the Hawkeyes ran their way to a 41-10 home victory. That proved enough to impress some (perhaps those that simply check box scores) as Iowa moved up in both national polls over the weekend.

That sets up for the biggest game of the young season when Iowa travels to Happy Valley this weekend to take on #7 Penn State.

The Nittany Lions are fresh off a road victory to open their Big Ten conference season as they took down Illinois 30-13 in a game that, like Iowa’s, felt much closer than that for quite some time. The Nits took advantage of five (5!!!) Illinois turnovers to eventually run away with the win, but we likely caught a glimpse of how the Hawkeyes will look to make this game tight down the stretch on Saturday night.

While Iowa will be looking to grind out a victory by keeping things close until late in the game, Vegas seems to think that’s a tall task. Our friends at DraftKings Sportsbook opened the line at Penn State -14.5 with an over/under of 42 total points. That implies a score of Penn State 28.25, Iowa 13.75.

The last time the Hawkeyes traveled to Happy Valley, the obliterated the Nittany Lions 41-21. Of course, that came in the COVID season of 2020 where no fans were allowed in the stands. Saturday night will feel just a bit different. However, the Hawkeyes do hold a 5-4 record in Happy Valley under head coach Kirk Ferentz. Iowa is 2-1 against the spread thus far in 2023.

The #24 Hawkeyes and #7 Nittany Lions are set to kick off at 6:30pm CT (7:30 ET). The matchup will air as the game of the week on CBS.

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.