Record to date: 15-15, $1,511

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

Iowa +3

Picking these thin Iowa spreads gets harder each week. Last week, the Hawkeyes were 1.5-point underdogs against the Badgers.

Much like the Iowa-Wisconsin game, fans would be smart just to bet the moneyline here instead of against the spread. The Hawkeyes’ moneyline is +120.

But for the sake of this fun little game Pete and I play each week, I’ll go Iowa +3. Surprisingly, the Hawkeyes have turned into one of the hottest teams in the Big Ten Conference of late. They’ve won their last three games and covered in each of those.

Take what I say with a grain of salt, however. I’m 0-3 picking Iowa spreads during the winning streak the Hawkeyes have been on. I’ve taken Iowa’s last three opponents to cover. And thus far, that strategy hasn’t worked.

So, I’m taking a different approach this week. I guarantee the Hawkeyes cover. I’m going to go all in on “The Spennaissance” this week. Hawks are back.

Over 32.5

I know they’re expecting colder weather in Minneapolis on Saturday, but these two teams are used to it. I don’t think temperatures under 20 degrees are going to have much impact on the Hawkeyes and Gophers’ offenses.

Iowa and Minnesota played in similar conditions last week too, scoring 24 and 31 points, respectively. That should give some bettors reason to believe this week’s Iowa-Minnesota total can hit.

Technically, the under has hit on two of the last three Iowa totals. But last week’s Iowa-Wisconsin total was 35.5 and the game ended, 24-10.

Do I have confidence in the Iowa-Minnesota over? Not really. But there’s enough evidence there to support this pick. I’m trying to catch Pete before this year ends, so I’m going to take some big swings over the next few editions of Pregame. Consider this over pick the first leg of my gambit.

Lock of the Week: USC -2

I wouldn’t say I have much respect for either of these future Big Ten teams. They won’t know what to do when Iowa flexes a fullback out wide or Wisconsin comes onto the field with two tight ends on the line of scrimmage and another in the backfield.

I still have to admit that I think USC is a legit College Football Playoff contender this season. I think people aren’t talking about the Trojans because they play after Midwesterners and SEC fans have gone to bed. With wins in Weeks 12 and 13, USC might be seriously considered a top-four team.

UCLA seems to be trending the wrong way of late. The Bruins are 2-2 in their last four games and they lost to the sub-.500 Arizona Wildcats in Week 11.

When the Trojans played the Wildcats, they picked up a 45-37 win. UCLA lost to Arizona by six. With that in mind, I can’t see UCLA losing to USC by fewer than two points on Saturday. Even on the road, I like the Trojans in blowout fashion.