Weekly Wager | The Daily Iowan’s official bettor’s guide for Week 5 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 29, 2022
This is a risky proposition, but Iowa’s defense is by far the best Michigan has faced this season.
After playing what was almost the easiest schedule imaginable in their first three games — Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn — the Wolverines came back down to earth when they faced Maryland last week. The Terrapins defense has been in the bottom tier of the Big Ten all season and still stayed within a touchdown.
Running back Blake Corum went off for 243 yards and two scores against the Terps, but the Hawkeye defense has the ability to neutralize him, ranking 19th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and eighth in Defensive Line Yards.
That means the Iowa offense will have to pull its weight. Luckily for the Hawkeyes, their offense is finally starting to show signs of life with all three running backs in the mix and Sam LaPorta carrying the pass-catchers.
The Wolverines’ defense has also fallen to 66th in Finishing Drives, which is significantly worse than a Rutgers defense (29th) that Iowa didn’t have much trouble with.
Plus, things could have been very different for Michigan last week if Maryland didn’t turn the ball over three times. I’m counting on this Kirk Ferentz offense to prioritize ball security once again.
Iowa is 6-1 straight up against top-seven opponents at Kinnick since 2008. I think it can keep things close once again.
If it weren’t for two defensive touchdowns and a doinked field goal that went in, Iowa games would be 4-0 to the under this season.
Iowa’s front seven can take advantage of a Michigan offensive line that ranks 60th in pass-block grading, per PFF. That’s bad news against an Iowa defense that also ranks seventh in Defensive Passing Success Rate.
In fact, both defenses enter this matchup in the top six nationally in coverage and tackle grading, according to PFF. Neither unit will make many mistakes or give up explosive plays. Both teams rank top-10 in opponent plays that go for 10 yards or more.
I expect Iowa to try to muddy this game up, which favors defense and solid special teams play.
Lock of the Week: San Jose State ML -120 vs. Wyoming
Wyoming seems to be overvalued in the market after beating an Air Force team that Craig Bohl always plays tough.
The Cowboys rank outside the top 105 in Havoc, tackling, coverage and pass rush. BYU quarterback Jaren Hall took advantage of those weaknesses last week, going 26-of-32 for 337 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
Meanwhile, in Week 2, San Jose State quarterback Chevan Cordeiro put up 275 yards against an Auburn secondary that plays in the SEC and ranks 29th in coverage grade. The Spartans should tear the Pokes up through the air.
Action Network’s Collin Wilson projects this at SJSU -7.
I grabbed this line at SJSU -120 earlier in the week, and I’d play it to -150 on the moneyline to avoid any close game drama.
I’m honestly surprised this line isn’t larger than 10.5. Do the experts in Las Vegas have amnesia? Iowa and Michigan played each other less than a year ago, and the Wolverines won, 42-3. With that result in mind, I’m pretty confident the Wolverines will cover this spread three times over.
These teams haven’t changed much since the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game, so I don’t expect the result of Saturday’s contest to be any different than the one we saw at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis last December.
Both of these teams are ranked inside the top 10 in the country in total defense. The key difference between the Hawkeyes and Wolverines is their offensive ratings. Michigan and Iowa are ranked 19th and 131st in the nation in total offense, respectively.
I don’t think Iowa’s worst-in-the-country offense will keep up with Michigan’s high-powered attack. Even with their fans and Kinnick Stadium magic on their side, the Hawkeyes are still going to get blown out on Saturday.
I haven’t taken an Iowa over before this week. But at long last, there’s compelling evidence that one of these Hawkeye overs will hit.
In the Big Ten Championship Game, Michigan scored 42 points. If the Wolverines can replicate that performance, all the Hawkeyes have to do is make a field goal.
If Iowa actually finds a way to stay in this game, there’s no way the over will hit. I don’t think the Hawkeyes will score more than 10 points on Saturday. So, if they win, the final score will probably be 10-7 or something like that.
Iowa and Michigan have the nation’s two best defenses, according to Pro Football Focus’ grades. That doesn’t mean this game won’t turn into the blowout over bettors will be rooting for on Saturday.
Lock of the week: Michigan State +8.5 vs. Maryland
It seems like people are enamored with Maryland this season. Three wins against bad teams and seven-point loss to No. 4 Michigan, and all of the sudden we’re labeling the Terrapins “good.”
I’m not buying what Maryland head coach Mike Locksley is selling. I appreciate what the Terrapins are doing, and I hope they make a bowl game, but Maryland isn’t better than Michigan State.
This will be the game where Maryland comes unglued. It seems like the Terrapins start every season hot and fall apart. Last year, Maryland collapsed against Iowa on Oct. 1, losing 51-14. One year later, I’m expecting the Terrapins to crumble in similar fashion.
Michigan State will definitely cover, if not win outright, on Saturday.