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 5 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 tight end Erick All catches a pass during a football game between Iowa and Western Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Broncos, 41-10. All had 34 receiving yards and scored a two-point conversion.

Pete Ruden’s (8-4, $730) Picks:

Iowa -11.5

This line opened at Iowa -7 and steamed up quickly to -11.5. I don’t think it’s time to stop buying.

Do I love betting on an offense coming off a 76-yard performance that saw a grand total of four first downs? No. But this is more of a fade of Michigan State than anything.

The Spartans are coming off a 31-9 drubbing at home at the hands of Maryland. Michigan State allowed the Terps to gain 74% of available yards in that game, so any kind of offensive improvement from the Hawkeyes would go a long way in this matchup.

But the place where I see the biggest difference is on the other side of the ball.

Michigan State’s quarterback room is a disaster. Starter Noah Kim got replaced by Katin Houser in the loss to Maryland after going 18-of-32 for 190 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Houser proceeded to throw for 75 yards and a pick. 

That’s not a great situation to be in against a defense that ranks 33rd in Defensive Passing Success Rate, 12th in PFF coverage grading, and 26th in total passing defense.

The Spartans also sit 103rd in Havoc Allowed, which means they tend to turn the ball over and allow opposing defenses to play in the backfield. While Iowa hasn’t shown its ball-hawking ability all that much this year, the historically strong secondary and defensive line should still cause some problems for Sparty.

Add in the fact that Michigan State is in the process of firing head coach Mel Tucker for cause, and I think there’s too much going against this Spartans team.

I’ll hold my nose and take the Hawkeyes here.

Under 36.5

Last week, I bet the over in an Iowa game for the first time in what seemed like two years. Well, I can assure you that won’t be the case this week. 

Both of these teams rank outside the top 90 in Quality Drives and Finishing Drives on offense, and neither team sits in the top 50 in Passing Success Rate or Rushing Success Rate. 

So, if these teams aren’t able to sustain drives, they’re going to need to create explosive plays to light up the scoreboard, right? 

Well, the Hawkeyes lead the nation in explosiveness allowed on the defensive side of the ball, while the Spartans rank 15th.

Throw in the poor quarterback play from Noah Kim (56.9% completion percentage, 897 yards, 6 TDs, 3 INTs) and Cade McNamara (50.6% completion percentage, 459 yards, 4 TDs, 3 INTs) thus far, and I don’t think these teams will be able to get much going.

I took the under at 38 when lines opened and would take this down to 35.

Lock of the Week: Memphis -3.5 vs. Boise State

This game should be an absolute beatdown.

Boise State boasts one of the worst defenses in college football in just about every advanced metric, including Rushing Success Rate (125th), Passing Success Rate (114th), Finishing Drives (113th), Havoc (122nd), Line Yards (109th) and a lot more. 

The Broncos are going to get picked apart by Memphis quarterback Seth Henigan and a Tigers offense that comes in at 26th in Passing Success Rate and 42nd in Finishing Drives. 

Henigan has improved each season off of Beale Street and enters this matchup with over 1,100 yards through four games and a career-high 69.4% completion percentage. He’ll have plenty of time to make good decisions against this Boise defense that ranks 116th in sack percentage and 119th in PFF pass-rush grade. 

On the other side, Boise State quarterback Taylen Green has been completely hamstrung by offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan, who doesn’t want Green to take off from the pocket despite his legs being his greatest strength. 

Green’s yards-per-carry mark has dropped from 7.2 in 2022 to 4.7 this season as Boise has seen its rushing offense from 29th to 46th.

Keeping Green in the pocket could be a dangerous move against Memphis, as the Tigers enter this game ranked fourth in Defensive Passing Success Rate and fifth in PFF coverage grading.

The Tigers have big edges across the board in the nonconference showdown.

I’d wait to see if a -3 pops in the market, but if not, I’d bet Memphis to -5.5.

Matt McGowan’s (8-4, $729) Picks:

Iowa -11.5

Following a humiliating loss to Penn State on national television last week, the Hawkeyes will be motivated to flip the script Saturday night on NBC. While the unit did give up 31 points against the Nittany Lions, Iowa’s defense could have its best performance of the season so far against a poor Michigan State offense with a question mark at quarterback. 

The Iowa “D” was on the field for almost 100 snaps at Happy Valley, so if anything, those 21 second-half points from Penn State were most likely a factor of tiredness. The players will insist that they take pride in their conditioning, but not even Olympic athletes could play tackle football for that long at 100 percent speed. 

Compared to the Nittany Lions, the Spartans have an abysmal offense, one that has scored just 16 points over its last two games against Power Five competition. In those contests, against then-No. 8 Washington and unranked Maryland, the Spartans averaged just 77.5 rushing yards.

Against the Terrapins, Michigan State’s offense truly imploded, throwing three interceptions and losing two fumbles. Not only are these five turnovers more than what the Hawkeyes gave up last week, but they also were surrendered against a defense that ranks 46 slots worse nationally than Penn State in terms of total defenses. 

Not only will the Hawkeyes keep the Spartan offense off the board, but the Iowa offense should easily exploit Michigan State’s young secondary. With two sophomores starting at safety as well as second-year Dillion Tatum at right corner, the Spartans rank 92nd in opponent passing yards allowed. 

I’m not saying Iowa QB Cade McNamara is going to throw for more than 300 yards, but don’t be surprised if the Michigan transfer approaches the number, as he has shown comfortability with throwing to fellow Wolverine and tight end Erick All. While All will most likely have the most grabs on the day, the inexperience in the Spartan secondary opens up opportunities for receivers Seth Anderson and Diante Vines to create space and haul in some passes as well. 

After hearing all week about its stubbornness and resistance to evolving the offense, Iowa will turn to the passing game on Saturday. Doing so will keep the Michigan defense on its toes and allow for big play opportunities both on the ground and in the air. The Hawkeyes should have no problem covering this one. 

Under 36.5 

Unfortunately, the streak of Big Ten conference games hitting the under finally ended last week as Minnesota and Northwestern combined for a whopping 71 points in an upset victory in overtime for the Wildcats. In spite of that game, oddsmakers still haven’t budged with Iowa’s total. In fact, this is the lowest total the Hawkeyes have had all season. 

I’m still unfazed. 

Even if Iowa does shut out Michigan State, they still have to score more than 30 points, which it hasn’t done against a conference opponent since Oct. 29 of last year when it dropped 33 points against Northwestern. 

While I did say earlier that the Hawkeyes will utilize the passing game in this contest, I never said there wouldn’t be any turnovers. Both McNamara and his Spartan counterpart Noah Kim have each thrown three interceptions on the year, not to mention the fact that Michigan State brought back longtime head coach Mark Dantonio. 

Now serving as an assistant for interim head coach Harlon Barnett, Dantonio has had plenty of battles with Iowa head coach  Kirk Ferentz across his 13 years at the helm in East Lansing. Such familiarity will help the Spartans in keeping Iowa at bay. After all, it’s not as if Iowa has changed its offense that much. 

Perhaps the most memorable of Dantonio-Ferentz matchups was the 2009 game in which then-Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi threw up a prayer on fourth-and-goal for the win. The final score in that game? 15-13. 

Enough said. We ride the under once again. 

Lock of the Week: Notre Dame -5.5 vs. Duke 

I can’t believe I’m doing this, as I’ve always held a disliking for the Fighting Irish, but this spread is too enticing to not put some coin on. Both Notre Dame and Duke have had fairly easy schedules, each with just one true test. For the Irish, this was against No. 4 Ohio State, while for the Blue Devils, this contest was a home duel against now-unranked Clemson. 

Even though only Duke got the win in its respective matchup, their victory was mainly due to the Tigers’ allergy to putting the ball in the end zone. In fact, Clemson had more total yards, rushing yards, passing yards, first downs, and time of possession in that game. It even had a better third-down completion percentage and only lost the turnover battle, 3-2. The Tigers missed two field goals and had a terrible red zone offense. So, despite the 28-7 victory, Duke did in no way dominate this game.

On the other hand, Notre Dame had a hard-fought loss to a much better team and had multiple chances to end the game in the fourth quarter, In fact, if the Irish didn’t have 10 players on the field in the waning seconds of their contest against the Buckeyes, they still could’ve emerged victorious. 

Duke and Notre Dame have averaged around the same amount of points per game in their three other games this season, but the Irish have a superior defense, which is ranked seventh in the nation in terms of total defense.  

Duke may be at home, but it’s not like they’re playing at Cameron Indoor Stadium. In short, the Blue Devils are the most overrated team in college football and will have a Colorado-like reckoning this weekend. 

Now don’t get me wrong, I took a vow to never watch “Rudy” in my life, but for strictly economic reasons, I’m taking the Irish. 

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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.