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 7 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.
Cody Blissett
Iowa running back Kaleb Johnson runs with the ball during the Iowa homecoming football game between Iowa and Purdue at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. Johnson rushed for 134 yards and scored one touchdown. The Hawkeyes defeated the Boilermakers, 20-14.(Cody Blissett/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden’s (11-7, $997) Picks:

Iowa +10

I love betting on double-digit underdogs with slow-moving offenses when there’s a low total. And wouldn’t you know it — that’s exactly what we have here.

When an underdog features a run-heavy offense, it makes it more difficult for the double-digit favorite to pull away and actually cover.

Iowa has run the ball on over 56% of its plays and ranks 89th in seconds per play at 28.4. Those triple option-esque splits are exactly what I’m looking for in situations like this.

The fact that Iowa’s run game showed some life with Kaleb Johnson and Leshon Williams combining for 208 yards against Purdue on Saturday gives me hope that the Hawkeyes can actually sustain some drives against a Wisconsin defense that ranks just 53rd in Defensive Rushing Success Rate, 68th in Defensive Line Yards and 78th in PFF tackle grading.

Plus, it’s not like the Badgers have been world-beaters in their new Phil Longo-led offense. Wisconsin ranks outside the top 50 in scoring offense and total offense under the former North Carolina offensive coordinator, which led to a loss to Washington State for the second consecutive season.

Iowa’s defense is also starting to look like itself again in terms of turning opponents over (thanks, Cooper DeJean!), so I think the Hawkeyes can keep this score looking respectable.

Under 36.5

Another week, another under for the Hawkeyes. 

Deacon Hill has yet to prove that he can effectively carry this Iowa offense, as the Hawkeyes put up a Success Rate in the fourth percentile last week with Hill completing 6-of-21 passes for 110 yards, a touchdown, and an interception.

It also says a lot when a wide receiver doesn’t catch a single pass in 60 minutes of football.

To add to the problems, Iowa put up a red-zone Success Rate of 22%, which is asking for trouble against a Wisconsin defense that ranks 12th nationally in Defensive Finishing Drives.

Meanwhile, I could see the Badgers struggle to sustain drives as well. Wisconsin ranks 80th in Quality Drives on the offensive side of the ball, while Iowa sits in the top 20 in both Defensive Quality Drives and Defensive Finishing Drives.

Now, both teams could find success on the ground against defenses that rank outside the top 50 in Rushing Success Rate, but that will only keep the clock running. That’s big in a game where both teams take over 26 seconds to run a play.

In arguably my least surprising pick of the week, I’m going back to Iowa under well.

Lock of the Week: Texas A&M +3.5 vs. Tennessee

I’ll happily take the Aggies getting more than a field goal here.

These teams’ advanced metrics are relatively similar, with both sides ranking top-10 in Defensive Finishing Drives and Defensive Rushing Success Rate. Both offenses also struggle to put up points when they cross over into enemy territory while ranking outside the top 40 in Offensive Passing Success Rate.

But the biggest difference here has to be the strength of schedule. 

Texas A&M has suffered two losses this season, but one came at the hands of a national dynasty in Alabama by six points, while the other was against a Miami team that would be undefeated if it weren’t for an absolutely mind-boggling coaching decision last week. 

Meanwhile, Tennessee’s most impressive win came over a 2-3 South Carolina team that has been a major disappointment in the SEC thus far. That’s not even mentioning the fact that the Vols got embarrassed by an unranked Florida team in the Swamp.

Plus, I’ve never been a big believer in Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton. He has a big arm, but he’s struggled with shorter throws and threw two picks against a South Carolina defense that ranks 115th in Passing Success Rate and 121st in Havoc.

On the other side, A&M’s offense has taken a big step forward with the addition of offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino. After ranking 101st in scoring offense last season, the Aggies are now a top-30 unit in terms of points per game. 

I’ll absolutely take three and the hook with the Aggies against a Tennessee squad that might be a bit overrated.

Matt McGowan’s Picks 

Iowa +10 

Believe it or not, five of the last six Iowa-Wisconsin games have been decided by at least 10 points, but I don’t believe that’s the case this season. While I believe this Badger squad is way better than last year’s edition, the Hawkeyes shouldn’t be double-digit underdogs in this one. 

Wisconsin offensive coordinator Phil Longo’s unit was supposed to be an air raid unit, yet the Badgers have the most rushing touchdowns in the Big Ten with 15. Similarly, Iowa is often reliant on the run game, especially given quarterback Deacon Hill’s inaccuracy in the passing game. Even though both teams may try to spread the ball around, they’ll ultimately succumb to smash-mouth football and deform this matchup into a game decided on the ground. All these handoffs will drain the clock, preventing Wisconsin from pulling away in this one. 

And let’s not forget that these are two of the better defenses in the Big Ten, with each respective unit giving up less than 20 points per game. These factors create the perfect storm for the Hawkeyes to cover the number. 

Under 36.5

I really don’t know why sportsbooks still put a line out for the Iowa game total game, as they only lose money when any fan with a brain picks the under and comes away with cash. The last three matchup totals have all been under 36 points. 

Plus, early forecasts call for some rain prior to game time in Madison, creating the perfect conditions for some classic Big Ten football. Stay on the edge of your seat and watch as each team runs the ball 40 times and only scores two touchdowns apiece. Washington and Oregon have no idea what they’re getting into. 

Matt McGowan’s (12-6, $1084) Picks: 

Lock of the Week: San Diego State -6 

Let me start off by saying that Colorado quarterback Shedeur Sanders may look cool when he does his celebration pose in front of the Arizona State student section, but ultimately looks pretty dumb when his team doesn’t even cover the number.  I’ll bet half those kids in the stands had their Sun Devils against the spread, and they were simply thanking Sanders for making them a quick buck. 

That was a joke, in case you were wondering. In the words of infamous Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy: Be You, Shedeur. Have all the fun with your ‘look at my watch’ pose. I actually hope you don’t know the spread to your games, but I doubt the Colorado Gaming Control Commission would even bother to investigate, considering all the money the quarterback and Coach Prime have brought to the state. They even got basketball star and known social recluse Kawhi Leonard to leave his house and go to a game in Boulder! 

Speaking of Leonard, his alma mater, San Diego State, is a lock to cover this weekend. Heading out of the bye, the Aztecs will be a well-rested team going up against Hawaii, which has won only two games against Albany and New Mexico State. The Rainbow Warriors have lost all of their games by at least seven points this season, and rank in the bottom 15 nationally in third-down defense and offense. Granted, SDSU has lost four straight contests heading into this one, but those defeats have all come at the hands of quality opponents. 

Aztec quarterback Jaylen Mayden (what an awesome name), was an honorable mention for the All-Mountain West team in 2022 despite starting only seven games that season. This campaign, the fifth year has thrown over 1,000 yards on the year to the tune of a 120 passer rating. He bested Hawaii last season and will do so again Saturday. 

Also fun fact: The all-time career assists leader in San Diego State basketball history is Tony Gwynn. The more you know. 

More to Discover
About the Contributors
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, 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.
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.