Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Penn State Nittany Lions Game Preview

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Joe Broback

Contributor at Champion Insiders
Joe is a writer covering the NFL, NBA, NHL and college football. He also currently writes for SB Nation’s Underdog Dynasty, covering the American Athletic Conference since 2016. Joe enjoys collecting shoes, playing sports, and anything fitness related.
Joe Broback
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You know what they say: close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Iowa wasn’t using either of those. They came close last week, but not close enough. One thing the Iowa Hawkeyes have done well is limit their mental mistakes, and they struggled mightily in the part of the game against Michigan. It ended up costing them a win. Now they face a Penn State team looking to prove they’re legit. They can’t afford a repeat of last week, but playing at home should help. Can Penn State handle better competition? It comes down to how well their quarterback plays. Iowa won’t make it easy on him.

Date: Saturday, October 12th
Start time: 6:30pm CT
How to watch: ABC
Line: Penn State -3.5
Location: Kinnick Stadium (Iowa City, IA)

Penn State Nittany Lions players to watch

DE Yetur Gross-Matos
CB Tariq Castro-Fields
QB Sean Clifford
WR KJ Hamler

Iowa Hawkeyes players to watch

DE AJ Epenesa
QB Nate Stanley
WR Ihmir Smith-Marsette
DT Daviyon Nixon

Penn State Nittany Lions keys to the game

  • Get Clifford comfortable
  • Pressure Stanley
  • Lay down the Hamler

Iowa Hawkeyes keys to the game

  • Ball security
  • Ball security again
  • Play mentally sound

Why the Penn State Nittany Lions win

Penn State’s start to the season surprised many, and now they’re looking to prove they’re a contender. A lot lies on Sean Clifford’s shoulders, but he’s shown he can handle the pressure so far. All he needs to do is continue to distribute the ball efficiently to his playmakers, and not turn the ball over. We’ve seen what KJ Hamler can do with the ball in his hands, so getting him involved early will give Iowa trouble. Penn State’s defense can also use the Hawkeyes game against Michigan last week as a blueprint. Pressuring Nate Stanley resulted in multiple turnovers last week, and the Nittany Lions should use the same approach.

Why the Iowa Hawkeyes win

Despite the offensive struggles, Iowa’s plenty capable of beating Penn State. Penalties and turnovers killed a number of potential scoring drives last week, and it cost them the game. Both of those things are aspects the Hawkeyes can fix this week. They control how many penalties they commit and Stanley can limit his interceptions. His line must give him more time to throw, and handle complex blitzes better than last week. Their defense is more than capable of limiting Penn State’s offense, but their own offense must step up to the big stage.


Iowa shot themselves in the foot multiple times last week, and should have won the game. They can’t afford those mistakes again, but there’s less pressure on them. Penn State’s out to prove they can keep their undefeated season alive, and that will be tough in Iowa City. If Sean Clifford’s the real deal, Penn State wins. If he struggles, the Hawkeyes will pounce. PENN STATE 27 IOWA 24

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