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Penn State vs. Iowa: Where to watch, betting line and key storyline

November 15, 2018

Penn State hosts Iowa looking to restart its home winning streak that ended with back-to-back losses to Ohio State and Michigan State.

Here’s a look at Saturday’s game.

No. 17 PENN STATE (5-2) VS. N0. 18 IOWA (6-1)

• 3:30 p.m. at Beaver Stadium

• TV: ESPN

• RADIO: WPIT 730-AM; Sirius Ch. 94; XM Ch. 196.

• SERIES HISTORY: Penn State leads 15-12

• LAST MEETING: Penn State 21-19 in 2017

• BETTING LINE: Penn State minus-5

• IF YOU GO: A flyover of U.S. Air Force A-10 Warhogs is scheduled for Military Appreciation Day.

The storyline

Statistically, this is a bad matchup for Penn State. Iowa has a huge, physical defensive line that fronts the Big Ten’s No. 2 run defense. That puts pressure on Penn State’s passing game, which has been restless the past month.

Further, Iowa has a run-first offense (59 percent of its snaps) whose top two pass-catchers are tight ends. The Lions rank 74th nationally against the run (with Indiana rushing for 224), and their linebackers aren’t coverage assets. Iowa’s T.J. Hockenson (6-5) and Noah Fant (6-4) have combined for 51 of the team’s 123 receptions and nine of its 16 touchdown catches.

But bad matchups are meant to be uprooted, and Penn State has some points in its favor. First, even in a loss to Michigan State, the Lions rushed for 205 yards against the nation’s then-No. 1 rush defense (which was further exposed by Michigan). A well-timed draw can beat any out-of-position defense, as Miles Sanders did against the Spartans.

Second, Penn State’s defensive line showed some second-half pass-rush chops against Indiana, with ends Shaka Toney and Yetur Gross-Matos combining for six sacks. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, though more mobile this season, still has thrown six interceptions.

Penn State also has a wild card in safety Jonathan Sutherland, who will play the first half for suspended starter Garrett Taylor. Franklin nicknamed Sutherland “the assassin” for his aggressive play, which the coach compared to former safety Marcus Allen. A few big plays by Sutherland could energize the entire defense.

PENN STATE PROBABLE STARTERS

OFFENSE

WR, 81, Cam Sullivan-Brown, Fr.

LT, 52, Ryan Bates, Jr.

LG, 74, Steven Gonzalez, Jr.

C, 62, Michal Menet, Soph.

RG, 66, Connor McGovern, Jr.

RT, 77, Chasz Wright, Sr.

TE, 76, Pat Freiermuth, Fr.

QB, 9, Trace McSorley, Sr.

RB, 24, Miles Sanders, Jr.

WR, 10, Brandon Polk, Jr,

WR, 1, KJ Hamler, Fr.

DEFENSE

DE, 48, Shareef Miller, Jr.

DT, 30, Kevin Givens, Jr.

DT, 54, Robert Windsor, Jr.

DE, 99, Yetur Gross-Matos, Soph.

LB, 7, Koa Farmer, Sr.

LB, 36, Jan Johnson, Jr.

LB, 6, Cam Brown, Jr.

CB, 21, Amani Oruwariye, Sr.

FS, 26, Jonathan Sutherland, Fr.

SS, 4, Nick Scott, Sr.

CB, 29, John Reid, Jr.

IOWA PROBABLE STARTERS

OFFENSE

WR, 12, Brandon Smith, Soph.

LT, 77, Alaric Jackson, Soph.

LG, 59. Ross Reynolds, Sr.

C, 69, Keegan Render, Sr.

RG, 76, Dalton Ferguson, Sr.

RT, 74, Tristan Wirfs, Soph.

TE, 87, Noah Fant, Jr.

TE, 38, T.J. Hockenson, Soph.

QB, 4, Nate Stanley, Jr.

RB, 21, Ivory Kelly-Martin, Soph.

WR, 84, Nick Easley, Sr.

DEFENSE

DE, 98, Anthony Nelson, Jr.

DT, 90, Sam Brincks, Sr.

DT, 96, Matt Nelson, Sr.

DE, 40, Parker Hesse, Sr.

LB, 27, Amani Hooker, Jr.

LB, 34, Kristian Welch, Jr.

LB, 32, Djimon Colbert, Fr.

CB, 35, Riley Moss, Fr.

FS, 30, Jake Gervase, Sr.

SS, 9, Geno Stone, Soph.

CB, 20, Julius Brents, Fr.

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