A trap game is, in sportsbook lingo, one in which the underdog is considered so easy to beat that the favorite doesn’t prepare as well as it should, thus setting itself up for defeat. It is, in other words, a textbook tortoise-and-hare scenario. The Penn State Nittany Lions would be, in this case, the hare to the Iowa Hawkeyes’ tortoise – who are, by the by, no strangers to pulling upsets such as last season’s 14-13 win over then-No. 2 Michigan. All of this, of course, begs the question, is it still a trap game when you know, ahead of time, that it is one?
- Date: September 23
- Time: 7:35 PM
- Venue: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
Sportsbook online odds:
Penn State -12½ (-110) 52½ (-110) -475
Iowa +12½ (-110) 52½ (-110) +380
Kirk Ferentz has two words for you
“In two words, ‘Oh, crap,” was Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz’s reaction to footage of Nittany Lions junior running back Saquon Barkley catching a short pass in the flat from Trace McSorley and turning it into 85-yard touchdown in Penn State’s 56-0 evisceration of the Georgia State Panthers last weekend. If Ferentz reacted to Barkley as if he had never seen what he, Barkley, is capable of, it was, perhaps, because he had blocked from his mind the memory of Barkley’s 167 yards and one touchdown, when the Lions crushed the Hawkeyes 41-14 at Beaver Stadium. Revenge is not, Ferentz said, Iowa’s driving force. “I know there’s been a lot of talk a little bit about avenging last year’s game or revenge factors, that type of thing,” he said. “The reality is we have a lot of players that weren’t — that are playing for us now that weren’t on the field. Many of them weren’t even on the trip last year. Our focus right now, our motivation is basically to play our best for 60 minutes, and that’s what it’s going to take to be victorious.”
Feed my Saquonstein
The Lions have, though outscoring opposing teams by a 141-14 margin, and winning two of their three wins by shutout, struggled, now and then, with the running attack. None of that, however, matters as long as Barkley is, either through the air on the ground, well-fed like sportsbook virtual slot machine. Barkley is, with 11 catches on as many targets, among Penn State players who have at least eight receptions, the only one with a flawless target-to-completion rate, which in turn has resulted in 241 yards and two touchdowns – including this 85-yard score:
The Hawkeyes enter the game, as do the Lions, with the 3-0 record, but Iowa has failed to deliver on the ATS goodness, going 1-2-1 ATS in their last four overall games and 2-4-1 ATS in their last seven. They have, conversely, covered in seven of eight as home dogs, which they will be again on Saturday. Nonetheless, if PSU keeps that killing pace, they’ll have not trouble covering the 12½-point spread, as they have in 11 of their last 13 games, and tipping the sportsbook total toward the over, which they have done in seven of their last eight road games.