Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#203 Penn State -3.5 vs.
#204 Iowa 43.5
Saturday, October 12, 2019 at 7:30pm EDT
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City
Written by Sporty Jordy

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#203 Pennsylvania State University
#204 University of Iowa
5-0
4-1
3-2
2-3
2-3
2-3
46
27
7
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This article covers a past game!

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When and where: October 12, 2019, Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA, 7:30 PM ET

The Penn State Nittany Lions run into their toughest test of the season in Saturday’s trip to Kinnick Stadium for a primetime meeting with the Iowa Hawkeyes. After rolling over Purdue, the unbeaten Nittany Lions will face a desperate Hawkeyes team reeling after getting squashed by the Michigan Wolverines’ defense in their first loss of the season.

Penn State barely escaped with a 30-24 victory the last time the two Big Ten rivals went head-to-head. They’ll have quarterback Sean Clifford behind center in place of the departed Trace McSorely this time playing opposite of Iowa’s Nate Stanley.

Is Sean Clifford for real?

Saturday’s game against the Hawkeyes will serve as the first real test for Penn State quarterback Sean Clifford. We’ve seen him air the ball out with no fear against bad teams in his first five games of the season, and it’ll be interesting to see if that confidence lingers or flees on the road against a ranked opponent.

Iowa has the fourth-ranked defense in the conference with opponents averaging 254.2 total yards per game against them. They are also holding opposing teams to only 8.8 points per game. As a young quarterback, the biggest obstacle for Clifford will be taking what the defense gives him and limiting turnovers. He can’t afford to put his own defense in a bind by giving the ball back to the Hawkeyes with good field position.

The Nittany Lions’ defense is talented enough to keep Clifford in this game. He just has to be wise enough to not throw it away. They put the clamps on Stanley in the 2018 meeting between these two teams in a game where he was limited to 18-of-49 passing for 205 yards and two interceptions.

The offense could once again be without running back Journey Brown, who is still working his way through a knee injury. Receivers Daniel George and Cam Sullivan-Brown are also questionable for the game with injuries. Fortunately, they have wide receiver K.J. Hamler, who had five catches for 96 yards and a punt return of 67 yards against Iowa last season. This year, he's fourth in the Big 10 in receiving yards with 34 on 19 catches.

“He’s one of those rare players who has the capability of hitting a home run,” Iowa Head coach Kirk Ferentz said during a conference call with Penn State reporters. “And there aren’t a lot of guys like that in baseball, and there aren’t a lot of guys like that in football. But he is truly one of those guys; he’s already demonstrated that.”

Stanley’s road to redemption

Stanley could barely move the ball the last time he shared the field with Penn State’s monstrous defense. He turned in a nightmare performance with two interceptions and an 11.7 QBR. Punter Colten Rastetter threw for more touchdown passes than Stanley in that game.

Will things be any different on Saturday?

That’s the million-dollar question that has the outcome woven somewhere in the answer. Iowa currently has the fifth-ranked offense in the conference, which appears to flow predominantly from Stanley’s passing attack. They haven’t had a predominant rusher to lean on heavily so far this season. Granted, Mekhi Sargent has been decent coming out of the backfield, but he certainly isn’t scaring any Penn State defenders.

The offensive line shuffling could be a serious issue heading into this game against a Penn State defense with 25 sacks under their belt this season. Offensive lineman Kyler Schott has been out with a foot injury, and Alaric Jackson is also working his way through a knee injury. Stanley dropping back in the pocket could be like hanging beef from a stick for the hungry Nittany Lions defense.

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It’s hard to erase Stanley getting crushed by the Penn State defense from memory. Some have tried to heap all of the pressure on Clifford’s shoulders heading into this game. He’s the hot-shot young quarterback leading the conference with an average of 288.6 passing yards per game.

Yet, despite his impressive individual offensive statistics, this game will clearly be all about the Penn State defense. The Nittany Lions have faced a rudimentary schedule up until this point, which has enabled Clifford to play a bit over his head. He could obviously prove me wrong by going out on Saturday night and attempting to light up Iowa’s elite defense.

This game is going to come down to his ability to remain patient and protect the football. McSorely was able to do it a year ago, which aided in the Nittany Lions eking out a victory. The defense will put the heat on Stanley in the pocket and force him into bad throws. Iowa has done a great job of taking care of the ball this season, but they also haven’t faced a defense of this caliber since they played Michigan, who forced Stanley into throwing three interceptions.

I’m taking Penn State and the points.

Prediction: Penn State (-3.5)

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I’m not expecting an offensive dud the likes of Iowa’s 10-3 loss to Michigan, but this game will be heavily centered on the defenses for both teams. These are two teams giving up less than double-digit points per game, which ranks top-three in the nation. Stanley knows what it feels like to hit a defensive wall, and Clifford is about to learn the same on Saturday. Give me the under betting total here.

Prediction: Under (41.5)
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Written By Jordy McElroy , "Sporty Jordy"

Born in Germany and raised in the beautiful state of Tennessee, Jordy McElroy is a storyteller of sports, a sports betting enthusiast and a semi-deep thinker. Being a New England Patriots fan means he's a six-time Super Bowl winner as well, which means you'd have to be a fool to ignore his advice. Prior to joining our team here at Winners & Whiners, Jordy’s work appeared on CNN.com, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report, USA TODAY and BJPenn.com. There are no beaches where he comes from -- just rolling hills, green valleys and all the Sun Drop you can drink.