Pete Ruden

Pete Ruden, Action Network College Football Editor

Rutgers +7.5

This matchup is going to be predicated on special teams, and we’re lucky enough to see two of the nation’s best punters go at it in Iowa’s Tory Taylor and Rutgers’ Adam Korsak. That means field position will be key, so each offense will likely have to record sustained drives to put up points.

However, both defenses have the advantage here. The Scarlet Knights rank top-40 in Success Rate against both the run and the pass. They also come in at 45th in Finishing Drives, so if Iowa’s offense finds its way into Rutgers territory, it won’t be easy to put touchdowns on the board.

Iowa’s defense, which ranks top-15 in most key categories, won’t have a problem with a Rutgers offense that put up 16 points against lowly Temple.

I’m expecting a low-scoring game, as the total suggests. That kind of game script favors the dog of over a touchdown. 

Under 35.5

Can I just copy and paste what I wrote above (and what I’ve written the past three weeks)?

It feels crazy to bet a total this low, but there’s some merit to it. With special teams playing such a huge role this week, these offenses will have to travel the length of the field against stronger defenses. 

And if they do somehow travel the majority of the field, each defense has a significant advantage in Finishing Drives. Iowa’s defense ranks 12th in that category, while Rutgers’ offense comes in at 76th. Rutgers’ defense ranks 45th in Finishing Drives, and the Iowa offense sits at 128th. 

Plus, Rutgers runs the ball at a 68.2% clip — the seventh-highest rate in the country — which will keep the clock running throughout the game.

I don’t expect many touchdowns here — especially when a number of drives will start inside the 10-yard line.  

Lock of the Week: Eastern Michigan -4.5 vs. Buffalo

Iowa transfer Samson Evans put on a show when Eastern Michigan downed Arizona State last week, rushing for 258 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ upset over a Power Five opponent.

I wouldn’t be surprised if he did it again against a Buffalo defense that ranks 103rd in Rushing Success Rate and 130th in PFF tackling grade. 

While both offenses have the advantage, I expect the Eastern Michigan defense to hold up a lot more than a Buffalo unit that has given up at least 31 points in every game this season.

I scooped this line at Eastern Michigan -4.5 earlier in the week and would play it to -6.