Weekly Wager | The Daily Iowan’s official bettor’s guide for Week 4 of the Iowa football season
Each week during the Iowa football season, Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Austin Hanson and Action Network College Football Editor Pete Ruden will place three hypothetical bets of $100. Their picks are listed below and will be tracked throughout the year.
September 22, 2022
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.
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.
I’m picking Rutgers to cover or win outright this week purely because I’m not sure either team will score a touchdown in this game. It’d be hard for Iowa to win this game by more than seven points without scoring a touchdown.
Rutgers’ defense ranks 10th in the nation and Iowa’s offense is last in the 131-team FBS. That doesn’t seem like a recipe that will enable the Hawkeyes to win by eight points or more.
I know Iowa’s offense had its best game of the season last week against Nevada. But I’m not taking too much stock from the Hawkeyes’ 27-0 win over a Wolf Pack team that ranks 86th in the country in total defense and 106th in passing yards allowed.
If this total moves to and closes at 34, it’d be tied for the lowest closing total in college football since 2000, according to Barstool Sportsbook. One of the last times I saw a total this low was ahead of the 2021 Iowa-Wisconsin game at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison. The total for that game was set at 35.5, just like this Saturday’s Iowa-Rutgers game. The Badgers beat the Hawkeyes 27-7 last year.
It’s also worth noting that Iowa’s defense ranks sixth in the nation and Rutgers’ offense is 91st. Two good defenses and two bad offenses all playing in the same game should be music to under bettors’ ears — no matter how low the total is.
Lock of the Week: USC -6.5 vs. Oregon State
This spread is shocking to me. The Trojans are 3-0 this season and they’ve won each of their games by at least 13 points.
I know Oregon State is also 3-0, but the Beavers do share one common opponent with the Trojans: the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Oregon State managed to beat Fresno State by just three points. The Trojans breezed by the Bulldogs by a 28-point margin. By that logic, USC should down Oregon State by 25 in this game.
I picked the Trojans to cover when they were nine-point favorites over the Stanford Cardinal two weeks ago. So, I’m going back to the well this week.
Inscribe this in stone: USC is going to win by triple the 6.5-point margin it’s favored to beat Oregon State by.