Weekly Wager | The Daily Iowan’s official bettor’s guide for Week 6 of the Iowa football season
October 6, 2022
Record to date: 9-3, $1,149
There’s no denying that Illinois running back Chase Brown is one of the best backs in the country. He leads the nation with 733 yards rushing and hasn’t been held under 100 yards once this season.
However, the Hawkeyes held Michigan’s Blake Corum — a potential Heisman dark horse — to his lowest yards-per-carry output of the season, and that was against a better offensive line than what Iowa will face this week.
There were clear cracks in both Wisconsin’s offense and Wisconsin’s defense when the Illini beat the Badgers by 24 last week. Iowa doesn’t have those same cracks in its defense, though.
If the Hawkeyes can contain Brown at least a little bit, Illinois doesn’t have a strong enough passing game to beat Iowa’s secondary. In fact, the Hawkeyes’ defensive backs rank second nationally in PFF coverage grade and 11th in Defensive Passing Success Rate.
Iowa will lean on Tory Taylor once again to win the field position battle. That should help the Hawkeyes put up enough points to cover against what has been a vaunted Illinois defense thus far.
Just like most weeks, this is another classic “under” game for Iowa. Both defenses hold huge advantages over the opposing offenses.
Illinois ranks top-10 in Defensive Rushing Success Rate, Defensive Passing Success Rate, Havoc and Defensive Finishing Drives. This unit absolutely bottled up Wisconsin’s run game last week, holding the Badgers to just two total yards rushing. Star Badger back Braelon Allen recorded just two yards on eight carries.
That’s going to be trouble for Iowa. Although the Hawkeyes have improved over the last couple of weeks, they still rank in the bottom 15 of nearly every meaningful category.
Meanwhile, the Illini offense ranks outside the top 70 in Rushing Success Rate, Passing Success Rate, Finishing Drives and Havoc Allowed.
Brown will likely have a solid day on the ground, just as Corum did for Michigan last week. But given Iowa’s top-five rankings in tackling and coverage, per PFF, the Illini won’t have a way to hit big plays consistently.
Plus, both teams run the ball over 55% of the time, which will keep the clock running early and often.
Lock of the Week: TCU -7 vs. Kansas
TCU enters this game on Cloud Nine after a 55-24 demolition of Oklahoma last week. On the other side, Kansas was fortunate to escape Iowa State with a victory after the Cyclones missed three field goals, including a potential game-tying kick in the final seconds.
The Jayhawks amassed only 213 total yards of offense against Iowa State, which outgained Kansas by 100 yards. It seems like teams are finally starting to figure out this Jalon Daniels-led offense, which bodes well for TCU defensive coordinator Joe Gillespie.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Horned Frogs boast one of the best rushing attacks in the nation. Its ground game that ranks 11th in Rushing Success Rate and 32nd in Offensive Line Yards should feast on a Kansas defense that comes in outside the top 75 in both categories.
The Horned Frogs also own a top-10 offense in terms of the explosive rush and pass.
Record to date: 7-5, $556
Honestly, I don’t know if this bet will seem entirely logical this week. The Fighting Illini rank inside the top five nationally in three major defensive categories. Illinois is third in total and run defense. The Illini are first in the country in scoring defense.
The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, rank 130th nationally in total offense. Betting on Iowa’s terrible offense against Illinois’ stellar defense, doesn’t seem like a recipe for success.
That said, this is the kind of game Illinois always finds creative ways to lose or get blown out in. The Illini are betting favorites, and national media analysts seem to be high on them. If past evidence is any indicator, the Illini will lose this game in embarrassing fashion. Illinois will either be blown or throw a heartbreaking interception on their last drive to lose.
At the very least, I like the Hawkeyes to cover in this game. I don’t see Illinois winning by more than a field goal.
I was foolish enough to pick the Iowa over last week. I’m not going to make that mistake again. Statistically speaking, Michigan’s defense is worse than Illinois. The Wolverines’ rank seventh and 14th in the country in total and run defense, respectively.
The Illini’s No. 1 ranking in scoring defense should also give over bettors some reason to pause. Illinois is letting up around nine points per game to offenses that are better than Iowa’s. Imagine what the Illini’s defense is going to do to the Hawkeyes’ offense.
Bettors also shouldn’t lose track of Iowa’s defensive ratings. The Hawkeyes rank third and eighth in scoring and total defense, respectively.
I suspect this game could end, 10-7. Believe me, if these teams could tie, they would. Hammer this under and all the Iowa unders this year, no matter what.
Lock of the Week: Missouri +11 vs. Florida
This line doesn’t make sense to me. The Tigers almost beat the second-ranked, reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs last week.
Why is Missouri the underdog in this game? Florida doesn’t have anything on its resume that is even close to as impressive as Missouri’s near-upset.
Perhaps I’m riding too high on the Tigers. I’ve been known to read too much into one game. Especially this season. I’m 12-13 in The Daily Iowan’s weekly “On the Line” picks, and if I pick another bad “Weekly Wager” slate, I might be in hypothetical debt. Good thing I’m not actually placing these bets.