The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Weekly Wager | The Daily Iowan’s official bettor’s guide for Week 3 of the Iowa football season

Each week during the Iowa football season, Daily Iowan Pregame Editor Matt McGowan 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.
Grace Smith
Iowa celebrates after a Cy-Hawk football game between Iowa and Iowa State at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 20-13. Iowa had 235 total yards as a team.

Pete Ruden’s (4-2, $363) Picks:

Iowa -28.5

I know laying four touchdowns with Iowa sounds insane. 

Believe me, I had no interest in backing the Hawkeyes this week — until Action Network senior writer Stuckey told me that was one of his first bets of the week. And the more I looked into it, the more it made sense.

First off, who are the Broncos going to trot out at quarterback? Week 1 starter Jack Salopek is averaging 140 passing yards per game and has one touchdown and two picks this season. 

He got replaced by Arizona State transfer Treyson Bourguet in Western Michigan’s last game against Syracuse, leading to a 64-yard performance on 16 attempts — a rough four yards per attempt.

Former Old Dominion signal-caller Hayden Wolff also resides on the roster and has completed 33% of his passes this season — something that would make previous Iowa QBs Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla look like Joe Montana and Steve Young.

Whoever starts will be leading a Broncos air attack that ranks 124th in Passing Success Rate. 

Now, freshman running back Jalen Buckley has been a bright spot for WMU with 281 yards and two scores on 38 carries this season. However, 194 of those yards came against St. Francis (PA), so I’m not putting too much stock into his numbers.

In front of him is a Western Michigan offensive line that ranks 70th nationally in Offensive Line Yards. While that’s not terrible for a MAC program, again, one game came against the Red Flashes, who aren’t in the same stratosphere as the Hawkeyes.

This might be the game Brian Ferentz needs to boost his scoring average. The Broncos rank outside the top 100 in Defensive Finishing Drives, Defensive Passing Success Rate and Quality Drives Allowed. Plus, they’re 89th or worse in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and Havoc Created.

I’m going to wait to see if a -28 pops in the market again, but if it doesn’t, I’ll plug my nose and take the Hawkeyes to -29.5.

Under 43

I don’t know if Western Michigan scores this week. I know I wrote something similar when the Hawkeyes hosted Utah State before the Aggies put up 14 points — but the under still cashed with ease.

As mentioned, I don’t trust the Broncos’ quarterback room or the playmakers around whoever starts. 

Buckley probably gives Western Michigan its best chance to score points, but the Broncos showed they’ll throw the ball a ton when facing a huge deficit. In a 48-7 loss at Syracuse last week, WMU fed Buckley only eight times and attempted 47 passes with its shoddy quarterback room.

Throwing the ball a lot typically means more points will be scored, but I think the Hawkeyes’ secondary will have an absolute field day if the Broncos test them.

On the other side, Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz should absolutely try to put up as many points as possible, but I don’t see that being more than 35 unless the defense gets involved. 

In fact, the Hawkeyes rank 131st in Offensive Line Yards, so they could be facing some third-and-longs if they don’t get a push up front in standard downs. And we all know how poorly Iowa performs on third down.

A score of 35-7 or 38-3 would still get this ticket to the window, so I’ll take the under here if I have to.

Lock of the Week: Florida +7.5 vs. Tennessee 

I’m still not a believer in Volunteer QB Joe Milton III, and I don’t know if I ever will be.

While he’s thrown for over 400 yards with four touchdowns and no picks this season, he didn’t record a single big-time throw in a tune-up game against Austin Peay. 

He has a cannon for an arm, but he struggles with his accuracy more than 10 yards down the field. Add in the fact that the receiving corps lost a lot in Jalin Hyatt and Cedric Tillman, and the Volunteers emerge as a solid fade candidate. 

Their backfield is a strength with Jabari Small and Jaylen Wright leading the way, but Florida actually ranks top-10 in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and Defensive Line Yards.

On the other side, the Gators pose a major threat on the ground. The duo of Montrell Johnson Jr. and Trevor Etienne has combined for 134 yards and three scores while also adding a combined 67 receiving yards through two games.

Throw in an O-Line that ranks fifth in Offensive Line Yards, and Florida should give a Tennessee defense that wasn’t tested by Virginia or Austin Peay real problems.

Matt McGowan’s (5-1, $457) Picks: 

Iowa -28.5

While this is way larger spread than what I was expecting, I’m going to have to stand by what I said in Week 1. In a matchup against a non-Power Five school like Utah State or Western Michigan, each of which finished with a losing record last season, Iowa should be more than able to cover the spread. Yet two weeks ago, I was weary about the Hawkeye offense being rusty, which proved correct in the second and third quarters. Now, with two games under its belt, Iowa should have its first offensive explosion of the year. Although by its standards, such an “explosion” would be 30-40 points and not the 70 that USC, Oregon, and Oklahoma put up against weaker foes. 

Hawkeye QB Cade McNamara is getting healthy, as the Michigan transfer participated in his first full week of practice leading up to Saturday. With that in mind, I believe the QB will be more mobile than what we’ve seen from him in the past. He might have to be considering Western Michigan’s tendency to blitz. 

Regardless of McNamara’s health, the Iowa offense has still managed to put up at least 20 per game this year, with each contest being against a far superior defense than the Broncos, who’ve given up an average of 32 points and 286 passing yards per game in 2023. 

Combined with their mediocre “D,” Western Michigan is also lacking talent on the offensive side of the ball. Both the Broncos’ top receiver and rusher in 2022 transferred to Minnesota, not to mention the question mark at the quarterback position. All this offense could muster last week was a 75-yard touchdown run against a Syracuse defense that ranked 41st in total defense last season. 

The Hawkeye defense may have let up a garbage time touchdown and 4th-down miracle toss this season, but the unit won’t let their opponent find the end zone this time around. In fact, the group might even have a touchdown celebration of their own for the second straight week. 

As Pete said, this might sound crazy, but take the four touchdowns with Iowa. After all, who can forget that two-touchdown first quarter just two weeks ago? 

Under 43.5 

Once again: I’m not going to bet an Iowa over until I’ve seen one. Even if the Hawkeyes let up six points to the Broncos, they still have to score at least 38 points by themselves. The last time Iowa put up that many points? Oct. 1, 2021, against Maryland. So forgive me if I have just a smidge of doubt about how much the unit can produce this game. 

Although Western Michigan’s up-tempo offense will give the Hawkeyes plenty of chances to score, Iowa’s rather methodical rushing attack might eat up too much clock. Unless they average at least five yards per rush (they average just 2.86 so far this season), the Hawkeyes won’t be able to put 40 points on the board, even with help from their defense. 

If Iowa really cared about meeting Brian Ferentz’s contract clause of 25 points per game, then it would’ve kicked a field goal in the closing seconds of its 24-14 win over Utah State. So don’t expect any extra effort to find the end zone in garbage time. 

Besides, I think Iowa will want to keep some of its playbook hidden in advance of the Sept. 23 battle against Penn State in Happy Valley. Just follow your instincts and take the under. 

Lock of the Week: Kansas State –5 over Missouri 

All the college football world wanted to talk about was the alleged rebirth of the Kansas football team, as the Jayhawks got off to a hot 5-0 start. ESPN’s College Game Day even arrived in Lawrence to celebrate such a revival from the days of Gale Sayers. But guess what? That team finished with seven straight losses to end the year. Instead, what the nation should’ve been watching was the unquestioned best football school in Kansas: The K-State Wildcats, who finished 10-4 overall last season, including a win over a Max Duggan-led TCU for the Big-12 title. 

This year Kansas State sits at No. 15 in the rankings and is 2-0 against the spread. The Wildcats average 43.5 points per game and let up 6.5, albeit against feeble foes in Southeast Missouri and Troy. On Saturday, they take on SEC opponent Missouri, who only won by four against 0-2 Middle Tennessee. 

Another fact the public should know is that K-State head coach Chris Klieman is undefeated in his regular season non-conference games against Power Five Schools. The average margin of victory in those three games? 17.3 points. 

Yes, the Tigers do boast former five-star recruit Luther Burden at wide receiver, but the Wildcats blanketed him to just one reception in their last meeting. 

Missouri was actually my second choice for school, so trust me when I say I don’t hate the Tigers. In reality, I just want to mess with my twin brother, who’s a sophomore at Kansas. Yet all emotions aside, K-State is better than both Kansas and Missouri. Five points should be no trouble at all. 

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About the Contributors
Matt McGowan
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Pete Ruden
Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor
Email: [email protected] Twitter: @PeteyRuden Pete Ruden is the Pregame Editor at The Daily Iowan, where he has worked since the beginning of his college career. He has covered a variety of sports at the DI, including football, men's basketball, baseball, wrestling, and men's tennis. Currently a senior, he served as a sports reporter his freshman year, before becoming the Assistant Sports Editor and then Sports Editor his junior year.
Grace Smith
Grace Smith, Senior photojournalist and filmmaker
Grace Smith is a fourth-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic Arts. In her four years at The Daily Iowan, she has held the roles of photo editor, managing summer editor, and visual storyteller. Outside of The Daily Iowan, Grace has held an internship at The Denver Post and pursued freelance assignments for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Des Moines Register.