Upset Bait: Iowa renews its lease on Beaver Stadium

Perusing the weekly lines for a straight-up shocker or two — for entertainment only, of course.

MATT HINTON: Iowa (+4) over Penn State.
Iowa lost its only road game to date to Iowa State and had to rally from a late 24-3 hole to avoid a home upset at the hands of Pitt. But at least the Hawkeyes are capable of an offensive outburst when necessary: Penn State has managed a grand total of three touchdowns in too-close-for-comfort escapes against Temple and Indiana and is still trying to figure out how to graft two hopelessly mediocre quarterbacks into one. Iowa has plenty of issues of its own, particularly in the secondary, but the Nittany Lions are not the ones to exploit it.

History majors will also note that the Hawkeyes have taken four out of five in Happy Valley under Kirk Ferentz, and eight of the last nine against Penn State overall. JoePa's number: They got it.

CHRIS BROWN, Smart Football and Grantland: Northwestern (+7½) over Michigan.
So far, Brady Hoke's first season in Ann Arbor has been a dream: He's undefeated, he's got his team playing his desired "MANBALL" (well, sort of, though Michigan does lead the Big 10 in rushing at 272 yards per game) and the Wolverines inching towards the top 10 in both polls. But the team has problems that blowouts over Minnesota cannot remedy: The defense is still undermanned, forcing defensive coordinator Greg Mattison to play guessing games with blitzes and calls, and Denard Robinson has (generally) looked far more inaccurate than he did last season, give or take a few jump balls against Notre Dame.

That is't to say that Michigan is bad, just that it has enough soft spots for Northwestern to take advantage on the Wolverines' first trip this season away from home. And the guy who is most likely to be able to take advantage is do-it-yourself quarterback Dan Persa, who should be back full time after leaving last week's come-from-ahead loss at Illinois with four touchdown passes in his first start of the season. Assuming Persa finishes this one, expect him to win the quarterback duel with Robinson and the Wildcats to score the upset at home.{YSP:MORE}

GRAHAM WATSON: Minnesota (+10.5) over Purdue.
Minnesota is bad. Let's acknowledge that right off the bat. The Golden Gophers lost to New Mexico State; they lost to North Dakota State; they were shut out by Michigan. And this week, coach Jerry Kill had enough: He called out his players, the program and even — in an indirect way — former coach Tim Brewster when he said the team he inherited isn't "athletically gifted" and is "getting slower."

Saturday, the Gophers are going to prove him wrong. No self-respecting person wants to be called out publicly for their failings and Kill's rant is enough to kick the Gophers in gear against a 2-2 Purdue outfit that itself has lost to Rice, trailed in the fourth quarter against Middle Tennessee and was blown out by Notre Dame. Could that have been Kill's plan all along?

This week's guest…
JASON PRIESTAS, Kansas State (+4) over Missouri.
Say what you will about Kansas State coach Bill Snyder. At 70, he was considered too old when, in 2009, he began his second stint in Manhattan in an attempt to clean up the stink of the Ron Prince era. His old school approach to offense — with its focus on the quaint concept of running the football — stands out in a Big 12 that long ago traded the wishbone for the Air Raid.

You must also admit that the man is a winner. At 4-0, the Wildcats are rolling, with a road win over Miami and an upset of then-No. 15 Baylor in back-to-back weeks. Saturday, the Tigers will get a taste of quarterback Collin Klein and Kansas State's option-based attack and Snyder will laugh last again as he celebrates another win in the stadium named after him.

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Matt Hinton is on Facebook and Twitter: Follow him @DrSaturday.
Follow Graham Watson @Yahoo_Graham.
Follow Chris Brown @smartfootball
Follow Jason Priestas @elevenwarriors

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