Some people will tell you that this series between No. 17 Penn State and No. 18 Iowa reached its peak during the 2004 season. And by “some people,” I just mean myself, but even if I’m alone it doesn’t mean I’m wrong.
The 2004 season when Iowa, which was 4-2 and ranked No. 25 by the AP Top 25, made its way east to take on a Penn State team that was struggling at 2-4 on the season. Iowa would go on to win that game 6-4. It was beautiful. There were seven turnovers in the game, and neither team managed to reach 170 yards of offense in the contest.
Alas, they carried on, playing more games. In fact, Saturday’s meeting will be the 28th meeting, but only the third since 2012. Penn State leads the series 15-12 and has won the last four, including a 21-19 thriller in Iowa City last season.
Date: Saturday, Oct. 27 | Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Location: Beaver Stadium — State College, Pennsylvania
TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
Penn State: Penn State’s season has not gone according to plan. Perhaps we should have seen it coming when the Nittany Lions beat Appalachian State in overtime to start the season. After opening the season 4-0, the Nittany Lions lost two straight home games against Ohio State and Michigan State, blowing fourth-quarter leads in both games. They bounced back with a win over Indiana last week, but even that was a struggle. While it’s Big Ten title hopes are on life support, this team could still get to a New Year’s Six bowl game if it wins out, and a victory over this Iowa team would be a good start.
Iowa: This will be another chance in the 2018 season to gauge just how good this Iowa team is. The Hawkeyes enter the contest at 6-1, but that lone loss was at home to Wisconsin by 11 points. Their six wins have come against Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana and Maryland. There isn’t a pushover in the bunch, but none of them are the kind of wins that will make anyone take notice. If Iowa can go on the road and beat this Penn State team, it will announce to the rest of the Big Ten that it’s ready to compete for a conference title this season.
Game prediction, picks
While I respect what Iowa’s been able to accomplish this season, I have a hard time trusting it in this spot on the road. While Iowa’s defense may be the most underrated unit in the country, it’s offense is nearly as ineffective as the defense is stout. The good news is that defense travels, but Penn State will be able to put points on the board at home, and I don’t know if the Iowa offense can keep up. Pick: Penn State -6.5
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