Weekly Wager | The Daily Iowan’s official bettor’s guide for Week 8 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.
October 20, 2022
Record to date: 12-3, $1,722
Don’t get me wrong; I don’t see another 55-24 type of game breaking out in Columbus this week. But Iowa won’t lose this game by 30.
With CJ Stroud, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Marvin Harrison Jr., TreVeyon Henderson and Miyan Williams leading the way, the Buckeyes might very well boast the best offense in college football.
They rank top-five nationally in Passing Success Rate, Rushing Success Rate and Finishing Drives and have put up at least 45 points in every game since Week 1.
Enter Iowa. The Hawkeyes are the best defense Ohio State will have faced all season. Through the air, they rank seventh in Defensive Passing Success Rate and first in PFF coverage grade. On the ground, they rank 32nd in Defense Line Yards and boast two linebackers who rank top-five in total tackles in Jack Campbell and Seth Benson.
This isn’t like the Toledo defense that allowed Ohio State to score 77 points.
On the other side of the ball, the hiring of former Oklahoma State defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has been felt in a big way. Now in the same position with the Buckeyes, Knowles has the OSU defense ranking top-10 nationally in most advanced metrics.
Luckily for Iowa, it has already faced a Big Ten defense in Michigan that ranks top-20 in a number of key categories. The Hawkeyes ultimately failed to cover against the Wolverines as 10.5-point underdogs, but the offense turned it on late in an attempt to slide in the back door.
I expect the Hawkeye defense to keep the Buckeyes in check enough on the scoreboard to allow for a backdoor cover.
I have taken the under in every Iowa game this season, and it has gone 5-1 — and it would be 6-0 if not for two defensive touchdowns and a doinked field goal that went in against Rutgers.
As mentioned above, Iowa’s secondary has the ability to limit Ohio State’s stellar passing attack, and its front seven can keep up with Henderson and Williams in the backfield.
That’s not to say the Buckeyes won’t light up the scoreboard, but there’s a real chance this is the first game since Week 1 that Ohio State scores fewer than 40 points.
As for Iowa’s offense… Well, I expect it to be Iowa’s offense. Brian Ferentz may have some success drawing up plays for Iowa’s tight-end duo of Sam LaPorta and Luke Lachey much like he did with TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant in 2017.
However, Spencer Petras doesn’t have the same poise under center as Nate Stanley, and the run game isn’t the same as it was back then.
With two top-10 scoring defenses, this is shaping up to be another classic Iowa under.
Pick of the Week: Minnesota +4.5 vs. Penn State
The Kirk Ciarrocca Golden Gophers are back.
Minnesota boasts one of the best run games in the country, ranking fourth in Rushing Success Rate and seventh in Offensive Line Yards.
However, it suffered a 26-14 loss last week to Illinois, whose strength comes against the run. But Minnesota still ran the ball well, compiling a 0.53 EPA (Expected Points Added) per Rush, which ranks in the 98th percentile, per GameOnPaper. The Gophers also recorded five explosive runs.
Penn State is an entirely different story. The Nittany Lions rank 86th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and allowed Michigan’s Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards to post an EPA per Rush in the 96th percentile. Now, they have to contain another star in Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim? Good luck.
Add in a capable Minnesota defense against a banged-up Sean Clifford for Penn State, and I’ll take the points with the Golden Gophers.
Record to date: 10-5, $1,129
Ohio State -29.5
This pick feels dangerous. This is the largest point spread of any game on the college football slate this week. Still, I’m confident No. 2 Ohio State will find a way to beat 3-3 Iowa by 30 points or more.
I’ve already seen many experts pick Iowa to cover because of how large the point spread is. But when everybody seems to heavily suggest a team will cover, that’s right when it doesn’t cover. As the old adage goes, the oddsmakers know more than we do. This line is outrageous for a reason.
Ohio State is ranked second in the nation in total offense, averaging nearly 544 yards and 49 points per game. The Hawkeyes, as has been well-documented this season, are last in the 131-team FBS in the category. Iowa is putting up about 238 yards and one touchdown per game on offense.
Every team Ohio State has played this season has a better offense than Iowa’s. Even Rutgers’ 111th-ranked offense trumps Iowa’s.
None of the teams Ohio State has played this season have scored more than 21 points. The Scarlet Knights only mustered 10 against the Buckeyes. If Iowa’s offense is worse than those of the teams Ohio State has already played, that likely means the Hawkeyes will score fewer than 10 points at Ohio Stadium in Columbus.
Iowa is averaging about 15 points per game this season, counting defensive scores. Ohio State’s points per game average is 34 higher than Iowa’s. If the means hold up on Saturday, Ohio State will more than cover the 29.5-point spread.
This bet kind of contradicts the logic I used to justify Ohio State covering a 29.5-point spread. But I’m confident the Buckeyes can find a way to win by 30 points or more without jeopardizing this under.
Ohio State and Iowa rank fifth and seventh in the country in total defense, respectively. The Hawkeyes haven’t surrendered more than 27 points this season. Though, the highest-rated offense they’ve faced this season is Michigan’s 22nd-ranked unit.
Ohio State might score its average 49 points Saturday. Even in that nightmare scenario for under bettors, this pick could still work. I wouldn’t put scoring no points past Iowa.
The Hawkeyes rank 126th in the country in red zone offense. Iowa has made 12 trips to the red zone and scored eight times. Of the Hawkeyes’ eight red zone scores, four are field goals.
I suspect this game to push the 49.5 total to the brink, unlike a lot of the games Iowa has played this year. Unofficially, I could see Ohio State winning 40-6, covering the 29.5-point spread and allowing this under to hit.
Lock of the Week: Hawaii +5 vs. Colorado State
This game has already been accurately dubbed “the toilet bowl” by some. This really is one of the worst games of the season on paper.
But sometimes, games can feature two bad teams and be entertaining — the 2014 Virginia Tech-Wake Forest game that ended 6-3 comes to mind. I really don’t have any concrete statistical evidence to back up this pick.
But, I like Hawaii to cover. The Rainbow Warriors have a better record (2-5) than the Rams (1-5). So, I’m going to use that as the basis for this bet. Both of these teams have beaten Nevada, but give Hawaii the edge over Colorado State because it has an extra win over Duquesne on its resume.