Penn State head coach James Franklin showed me a lot last week when the Nittany Lions traveled to Purdue last week and walked away with a convincing 62-24 win. It wasn’t the win over the hapless Boilermakers that impressed me, it was the fact that the Nittany Lions didn’t suffer a letdown after taking down previously-undefeated Ohio State the week before.
Penn State has won four straight (3-1 ATS), including upsets over Maryland and the Buckeyes. I expect Franklin’s squad to build upon that success tonight against an overrated Iowa squad that arrives off a physically-draining 17-9 loss to Wisconsin.
Iowa is mediocre from the line of scrimmage this season, rating 0.1 yards per play better than average offensively (5.6 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.5 yards per play to a mediocre offense) and 0.1 yards per play worse than average defensively (5.3 yards per play to teams that would combine to average 5.2 yards per play against a mediocre defense).
Iowa clearly misses leading wide receiver Matt VandeBerg, who was the Hawkeyes’ most efficient target in the first four games this season before getting injured. Iowa is averaging just 150 passing yards at 5.4 yards per pass attempt over the past four games (54.8% completion rate), and I expect those numbers to decline further against a very good Penn State secondary that is 1.2 yards per pass attempt better than average in 2016.
The Nittany Lions also possess a potent offense that is averaging 33.6 points and 392 total yards per game at 6.0 yards per play and 11.7 yards per point against teams that would combine to allow just 5.1 yards per play. Penn State is also averaging 41.3 points and 437 total yards at 6.4 yards per play and 10.6 yards per point in its last three games.
Overall, the Nittany Lions possess a 1.0 yards per play advantage offensively and a 0.6 yards per play advantage defensively from the line of scrimmage in this game. Penn State is 5-0 SU at home this season with an average margin of victory of 12 points per game.
Take Penn State as Oskeim Sports’ Free College Football Pick on Saturday, November 5! If you enjoyed this betting preview, be sure to check back on a regular basis for more betting previews and free sports picks.