The Prediction

HI Publisher Rob Howe previews this weekend's Big Ten contest with Penn State and picks the winner.

What, When, Where: Iowa plays host to Penn State . Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm CT Saturday, Oct. 20, at Kinnick Stadium.

TV: BTN will carry the game to a national audience with Eric Collins, Derek Rackley and Jon Jansen calling the action.

Point Spread: As of Thursday afternoon, Iowa is a 3-point favorite at the Caesars Vegas, down 1.5 from Monday's open there. Total was at 42 after opening off the board.

Iowa Trend: Hawkeyes are 1-7 Against the Spread in their last 8 games following a straight up win.

Penn State Trend: Nittany Lions are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 games overall.

Prediction: If you're looking to wager on something this weekend, put a few sheckles down on this being a defensive tussle. Of course, you're probably not going to get great odds because it's expected.

They're good at keeping their opponents off of the scoreboard. Penn State ranks 15th nationally in points allowed per game at 16.0. The Hawkeyes check in 21st, giving up 17.2 a contest.

Conversely, the Lions come in at 70th nationally in scoring, 27.0 an outing. You'd find Iowa 98th on that list at 22.0. The teams own identical 4-2 records and are 2-0 in the Big Ten.

On paper, this match-up looks to play out similarly to Iowa's 19-16, double-overtime win at Michigan State last Saturday. It could turn on a turnover or special teams play. Maybe it boils down to which offense can make a few more plays or deliver in crunch time.

You also should keep an eye on the place kicking game. Iowa has one. Penn State does not.

Lion kicker Sam Ficken ranks last in the NCAA in field goal percentage at 33.3 ( 3 of 9). Hawkeye junior Mike Meyer is the reigning Big Ten Special Teams Player of the week after his heroics at Michigan State. He's second nationally having hit on 14 of 15 three-pointers.

These teams are real close. No matter which one wins, it shouldn't be a surprise.

I think the home field and great disparity in place kicking games will be the difference.

Score: Iowa 20, Penn State 15

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