For the first time this season, Penn State is favored by less than a touchdown.
The No. 17 Nittany Lions are 5.0-point favorites for Saturday’s home game against No. 18 Iowa. The line opened Sunday afternoon at Penn State -7.5, according to VegasInsider.com, but came down with heavy money on the Hawkeyes to cover.
The early over/under is 54.5, an interesting number for a pair of offenses going in opposite directions. The Hawkeyes managed only 17 points in a Week 4 loss to Wisconsin, but have averaged 37.7 over their last three games, largely easy wins over Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland. Meanwhile, the Nittany Lions boast the ninth-highest scoring offense in the country, but have averaged 25.3 over their last three.
Oddly enough, 54.5 is the highest over/under Iowa has been a part of this season — and it’s the second-lowest for Penn State.
The Hawkeyes have been a bettor’s dream this season, posting a 6-1 record against the spread. Iowa’s lone betting loss was failing to cover as 3-point underdogs in a 28-17 defeat at the hands of the Badgers. Meanwhile, Penn State is 4-3 against the spread with two straight betting losses (-14 at Indiana, -13.5 vs. Michigan State).
And, of course, Kirk Ferentz’s team has a knack for knocking off Penn State at its near-peak. Iowa upset the No. 5 Nittany Lions in 2009 as 9.5-point underdogs and ruined No. 3 Penn State’s perfect 2008 season as 7.5-point underdogs.
However, Penn State has had Iowa’s number recently. The Nittany Lions have won outright in the teams’ last four meetings (2017, 2016, 2012, 2011), covering in three of them.
Penn State and Iowa meet at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Beaver Stadium. The game will air on ESPN.