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October 20, 2012Penn State arrives in Iowa City this weekend for a big matchup against the Hawkeyes at historic Kinnick Stadium. Both teams are 4-2, both teams are coming off big wins, and both teams would like to separate themselves with a win under the lights on Saturday night.
Find out who are we picking to win this weekend, and by how much, right here:
Blue White Illustrated Web Editor
2012 Record - 4-2
Penn State's schedule has shaped up this season almost exactly how it was predicted to before games even started being played back in August.
First couple of opponents could be tricky, but from there out, it would be a progressive incline in how challenging each game would be, especially getting deep into the Big Ten schedule. Now, at 4-2, coming off a bye week, the Nittany Lions really get another in what has been a line of opportunities to show what they're capable of against tougher competition.
The keys against this Iowa team are fairly straightforward, and likely, Iowa fans are likely looking at very similar goals for their team this weekend too.
Both squads are tied for No. 14 nationally for turnover margin at + 1.17 per game. Meanwhile, neither coughs up the ball much with Iowa checking in at No. 4 nationally (four turnovers lost) and Penn State sits at No. 11 with five lost.
That said, against Iowa's No. 98 ranked total and scoring offense, and No. 99 passing offense, I think Penn State's defense will have an opportunity to thrive on Saturday. This Hawkeyes team's best asset is its running game, and with back Mark Weisman likely sidelined for this game, that's a huge help for Penn State.
Defensively, Iowa is, as always, stout against the run and the pass. Bill OBrien's offensive improvements are almost certain to take a step back this week after gashing that porous Northwestern unit two weeks ago.
Still, the very fact that Penn State is running a hurry up offense and strings together as much success as it has so far this season, I really don't think that this game is going to come down to just one or two plays the way that this matchup traditionally had in the past.
Certainly, special teams could and likely will play a factor in this game. Iowa kicker Mike Meyer has converted on 14 of 15 field goal attempts this season, so, for the purposes of this game, if it's close, he's pretty much a sure thing.
Frankly, I don't think it's going to come down to that, though. Even against this tough Iowa defense, I still I think Penn State will have opportunities to put up more than 20 points the same way it has done the past four games. With as many challenges as Iowa is having offensively this season, I think the odds of the Hawkeyes being able to match that are tough.
Penn State - 21
Iowa - 13
Blue White Illustrated Recruiting Analyst
2012 Record - 5-1
I'm real excited to watch Bill O'Brien put his stamp on the Iowa rivalry this weekend, and I also have no doubts that this is the game that will show everyone exactly what Penn State is all about this year.
So far this season, senior leadership has willed this squad to a 4-2 record, and I believe that leadership is really going to be tested this week.
With Iowa struggling at running back, the Hawkeyes are going to throw early and often and I think they'll have success. Iowa's receivers haven't been great this year, but I'm still not sold on the secondary and I think the short to immediate passing game is going to give them fits.
Offensively, Penn State will be able to move the ball, but they're going to look flat at times early and I think that will put PSU in a hole early.
Penn State will fight back and make this a game though, with the Nittany Lion offensive line being a major difference come the second half. I haven't said that often in the past, but I have faith in this squad digging in when it matters and until they prove me wrong, I'm going to give them props.
It'll be a touchdown game come the fourth quarter. Iowa will wear down late after a tough, physical eight quarters - going back to the Michigan State game - while Penn State's bye week and smart offensive coaching (I know I've never said that before this year) will give Penn State a chance to win in the final 10 minutes.
Penn State - 21
Iowa - 17
Blue White Illustrated Assistant Editor
2012 Record - 4-2
My reasoning for this win is pretty simple. Ohio proved in week one that if you're going to beat Penn State you need an effective running game, you need to be able to neutralize Penn State's stout defensive line and you need a running back (or two) that can go toe-to-toe with Penn State's linebackers for a full 60 minutes. That shackles the Lions' defense and opens up the quick-attack passing game.
Right now, though, it appears as if the Hawkeyes don't have the necessary weapons in their arsenal to play that style of game, but of course, they're going to try. I mean, they are the Hawkeyes. They have the offensive line, but I just cannot picture Iowa's bruised and battered backfield leading this team to victory. 180-pound freshman Greg Garmon is listed as the starter on the depth chart and he has yet to carry the ball more than four times in a game. Plus, he was banged up Sept. 15, an injury that caused him to miss a game and a half. Then there's the former walk-on fullback Mark Weisman, who is the team's leading rusher. He's not on the chart but he's expected to play after spraining his ankle last week against Michigan State. He was in a walking boot until Tuesday and has been limited in practice. Are he and Garmon really going to be the backs who lead the Hawkeyes past the Nittany Lions? I doubt it.
And if they can't run the ball, they're not going to be able to pass it. Iowa has one of the worst passing games in the league. It's offensive line allowed eight sacks in their season-opener, but has only given up one since then. (That came against Sparty.) If Iowa is forced to drop back and pass, you better believe Deion Barnes, Sean Stanley and company will be looking to add to that sack total.
Plus, Iowa's defense tends to allow one deep pass per game. It'll allow one this game, too. There won't be many touchdowns scored, but a big reception in the Lions' favor will be the difference-maker.
Penn State - 17
Iowa - 6
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