Pete Ruden

Pete Ruden, Action Network College Football Editor

Iowa -3.5

All of the focus from Week 1 has landed on Iowa’s offensive ineptitude. That’s fair. But Iowa’s stellar defensive and special teams units have been lost in the shuffle a bit. 

South Dakota State managed an Offensive Success Rate of just 16% against Iowa. It couldn’t stay on schedule offensively, and three-and-outs were common. That doesn’t even bring into play Tory Taylor, who landed seven of his 10 punts inside the 20, including multiple kicks inside the five.

The Hawkeyes struggled severely to finish drives last week. They managed 0.5 points per opportunity when they crossed SDSU’s 40-yard line. Luckily for them, they face an Iowa State defense that ranked 62nd nationally in Defensive Finishing Drives last season and now returns only 29% of production, per TARP.

With Gavin Williams returning from injury, I’ll bank on Iowa’s offense bouncing back just enough.

This line sat at -6.5 before last week, and Action Network senior writer Collin Wilson makes Iowa nearly an 11-point favorite over Iowa State at home. I’ll roll with the Hawkeyes.

Under 41.5

I don’t think I could be paid enough money to take this over. 

Iowa’s defense proved how ferocious it is last week, and now Iowa State quarterback Hunter Dekkers has to make his first road start in a rivalry game at raucous Kinnick Stadium. 

Dekkers connected with wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson for three touchdowns last week, but Iowa has the horses on the outside to keep Hutchinson in check — particularly with Riley Moss on the right side.

Iowa held South Dakota State to 87 yards passing and 33 yards rushing in Week 1. If it can contain Hutchinson, it should find a way to keep Cyclones running back Jirehl Brock from making waves as well. 

Meanwhile, Iowa’s offense is still… well, Iowa’s offense. It posted a 26% Success Rate and 0.5 points per opportunity against an FCS defense. While things can only get better for this unit, I don’t expect it to put up 30 points out of nowhere.

Lock of the Week: Georgia State +7.5 vs. North Carolina

North Carolina’s defense is an absolute mess. 

It gave up 24 points to Florida A&M in Week 0. The Rattlers put points up in bunches nearly every time it crossed midfield. 

Then, the Tar Heels defense gave up 61 points to Appalachian State in Week 1, including 40 — forty — in the fourth quarter alone. 

Now, they face a Georgia State team that returns 83% of an offense that ranked 28th in Success Rate and 14th in Finishing Drives in 2021. 

Combine that with a solid defense that ranked low-40s in three key categories and returns 80% from last season, and the Panthers shouldn’t have a problem keeping up here.

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