Big Ten College Football Picks: (10) Penn State Nittany Lions at (17) Iowa Hawkeyes

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(10) Penn St. at (17) Iowa

Time: 6:30 PM CST

Spread: PSU -3.5

Total: 42.5

Odds c/o 5dimes

The Penn State Nittany Lions are a perfect 5-0 and have not been tested yet. That might change in Week 7 with Iowa knocking on the door as just 3.5-point underdogs. Penn State is 4-0 on the road, though, as Iowa hosts it at 6:30 PM CST on ABC. The point total is set at 42.5 according to NCAA football oddsmakers at 5dimes.


Penn State thus far has steamrolled a host of mediocre opponents. No team has been closer than a touchdown, and the Nittany Lions are averaging 47 points per game (no. 5) while holding teams to just 7.4 per game. The passing attack has been awesome for the Lions while balancing it with a top-50 rush game that is hardly a slouch either. The Lions average 305.6 yards in the air and another 194.0 on the ground, simply dominating teams at will.

Sean Clifford has headed the passing attack with his 1,443 passing yards, 66.7 percent completion clip, and his outstanding 10.7 yards-per-completion. He has thrown 12 TD passes and just two interceptions and has been sacked just 1.4 times per game. Clifford’s passer rating is 182.8, and his receivers have feasted all season. The top beneficiary of that has been KJ Hamler, who leads the team in receptions (19), total receiving yards (394), and touchdowns (4). Jahan Dotson and Pat Freiermuth have caught 12 and 15 passes, respectively, for 242 and 178 yards, but no other Lions have double-digit receptions. Nick Bowers, the second tight end featured, ranks No. 4 in yardage with 136 but he has just five receptions (27.2 yards-per-catch leads the team).

Clifford has also done well on his 43 rush attempts, generating 200 yards and two of the 17 team’s rushing touchdowns. Noah Cain has the most touches of the backfield, and he is averaging 5.9 yards-per-carry with a team-best five touchdowns. Journey Brown leads the team in both total yardage (217) and yards-per-carry (7.0). The Nittany Lions have averaged 5.2 yards-per-carry as a team, but this is certainly a team that mixes it up as well as any in football. Iowa’s defense has been outstanding, but it has yet to face a team as loaded as the Lions are at the skill positions.


The Iowa Hawkeyes are ranked No. 17 in AP polls and are 4-1 following its 3-10 loss to Michigan last week. Iowa will return home in Week 7, where it is currently a perfect 3-0 this season.

Iowa has been superb defensively so far, and relatively decent on the offensive end. The Hawkeyes are holding opponents to just 8.8 points per game while scoring 27.4 itself. Its pass attack ranks No. 57 nationally and it is ranked No. 53 in rushing yardage, with 250 via the air and 174.2 via the rush.

Iowa starting QB Nate Stanley has been good so far, but certainly not necessarily great. He has completed 61.9 percent of his looks for 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns. Troubling is his three interceptions and 129 lost yards on 14 sacks, though. Ihmir Smith-Marsette has been the top target for Stanley, with his 19 catches for 314 yards, both team highs. Brandon Smith has caught 17 for 215 yards and a tying-team-best three touchdowns. Nico Ragaini, Tyrone Tracy Jr, and Mekhi Sargent round out the top-five receivers with 100 yards or more, Sargent doing so as the lead running back.

Sargent has rushed 61 times for 311 yards an two touchdowns, all of which lead Iowa. Toren Young leads the team in yards-per-carry at 7.1, and he has 291 yards on just 41 touches with a touchdown. Marsette has rushed five times as a WR, and he has 43 yards and a TD on those attempts. No. 3 running back Tyler Goodson has rushed 40 times for 217 yards but has no touchdowns. The Hawkeyes have scored seven TDs via the rush and eight via the pass.

Kicker Keith Duncan has been nearly flawless: He has connected on 11 of 12 field goals, including 6 of 6 from 40-plus yards. He is also 14 of 14 on PATs.

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