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 12 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
Rutgers quarterback Gavin Wimsatt throws a pass during a football game between Iowa and Rutgers at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 11, 2023. Wimsatt threw for 93 yards and an interception. The Hawkeyes defeated the Scarlet Knights, 22-0.

Pete Ruden’s (19-11, $1,722) Picks:

Iowa -3

Iowa has a commanding lead in the Big Ten West standings, and unlike last year, I don’t see the Hawkeyes letting it slip away. 

In 2022, all Iowa needed to do to clinch a spot in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship was beat Nebraska in the final week of the regular season. Well, Cooper Dejean got hurt, and Iowa fell, 24-17, at home to lose its opportunity in Indy.

With a two-game lead in the West right now, the Hawkeyes won’t want to go through that again, so the motivation should certainly be there. 

From an on-field perspective, I see some similarities to the game against Rutgers. 

The Scarlet Knights entered last week with a ranking of 125th in Defensive Line Yards and 126th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate. Now, Illinois comes into Week 12 ranking 110th in Defensive Line Yards and 101st in Defensive Rushing Success Rate.

The Illini also have the second-worst run defense in the conference in terms of total defense, giving up 154.3 yards per game on the ground.

That’s a problem because the defenses Iowa tends to have a modicum of success against are units that can’t control the line of scrimmage.

The Hawkeyes took advantage of that last week, rushing for 179 yards as a team with three running backs eclipsing the 50-yard mark.

Heck, even Deacon Hill had some success through the air, throwing for 223 yards on 20-of-31 passing. 

On the other side, Ball State transfer quarterback John Paddock shined bright for Illinois last week. The former Cardinal threw for 507 yards, four touchdowns, and one pick with a heroic game-winning score in overtime against Indiana.

Yet for some reason, Illinois has elected to bench Paddock in favor of the usual starter, Luke Altmyer, who missed the contest with the Hoosiers due to a concussion. Altmyer, a transfer from Ole Miss, has thrown for 1883 yards on the season, most recently in a 212-yard and three-score performance against Minnesota. 

Yet that Golden Gopher defense currently ranks 52nd in the nation in terms of yards allowed, whereas the Hawkeyes slide in at eighth in that category. Ranking in the top 10 in Defensive Passing Success Rate, Defensive Finishing Drives, and PFF coverage grading, Iowa will present a much stiffer challenge.

I’ll lay a field goal with a motivated Iowa team that should stifle Illinois’ offense and find a bit of success on the other side of the ball.

Under 30.5

Can I just copy and paste my blurbs from the past five weeks here? Once again, I’m going to make Iowa prove I should take an over in a game with this bad of an offense and this good of a defense.

While the Hawkeyes found some success last week, this is a unit that still ranks dead last in the country in total offense and outside the top 120 in Rushing Success Rate, Passing Success Rate, and Finishing Drives.

Meanwhile, Altmyer and the Illini are facing a massive step up in competition — and there’s no guarantee Altmyer will play the entire game now that the coaching staff are aware of Paddock’s abilities. I don’t think a quarterback controversy is what any team fighting for bowl eligibility needs at this point in the season.

In Altmyer, Iowa will be facing a quarterback who has eclipsed 215 yards in just two of his nine games this season.

Plus, if the Illini decide to take to the ground more often in this game — which hasn’t been the case this season — Iowa ranks 28th in Defensive Rushing Success Rate and is coming off a game in which it allowed 1.5 yards per carry.

Illinois also ranks 110th in Quality Drives and will be facing a defense that comes in at fourth nationally in that same area, so I don’t have much confidence in the Illini’s ability to sustain drives.

Iowa unders have been one of my favorite bets all season, and I’ll happily go back to the well here. 

Lock of the Week: No. 20 North Carolina +7 vs. Clemson

I think the market is deflated here in North Carolina.

The Tar Heels closed October with losses to two ACC bottom-feeders in Virginia and Georgia Tech and then escaped with a two-point double-overtime victory over a Duke team with its third-string quarterback last week.

That makes this a great spot to buy low on a team that still boasts a top-10 offense with a likely top-10 NFL Draft pick at quarterback.

While he hasn’t garnered the headlines he did last year, Drake Maye still ranks fourth nationally with 3,145 yards passing this season to go along with a 21:6 touchdown-to-interception ratio. 

On the other side, the Tigers have remained solid in a number of defensive metrics but sit just 66th in Defensive Finishing Drives. That means the Tar Heels should make their way to the end zone instead of settling for field goals often in this game, which will go a long way in terms of keeping up in a high-scoring affair. 

UNC’s ability to put points on the board will be important because its struggles stem from the defense.

Gene Chizik’s defense has given up at least 30 points in their last four games against FBS competition. However, I’m not sure Clemson can take full advantage.

Cade Klubnik has not looked like the Heisman contender many thought he would be with Garrett Riley running the Tigers’ offense. Klubnik has been held under 215 yards passing five times this season, including in each of his past two games. 

If he can’t get going, it’s going to put a lot of pressure on Clemson’s backfield. Phil Mafah and Will Shipley have certainly been bright spots, but I wouldn’t want to trust a one-dimensional offense that ranks just 81st nationally in Finishing Drives.

I don’t think we see much defense here with the ACC’s best offense and a pair of talented running backs. 

Ultimately, I’m going to buy low on an offense that can put up points in a hurry and hang around in a barn burner.

Matt McGowan’s (21-9, $1901) Picks:

Iowa -3 

First and foremost, I want to say that I sincerely apologize for thinking Rutgers would finally be back. I saw firsthand on Saturday that, Sopranos intro music or not, the Scarlet Knights aren’t even on the same level as the Hawkeyes, especially in the bowels of Kinnick Stadium. 

I won’t make that same mistake again. 

Even in the mass hysteria caused by the news of star cornerback Cooper DeJean missing the rest of the regular season, his absence won’t be too much of a threat to Iowa’s hopes of covering such a small number. 

While shaky at times, Hawkeye cornerback Jermari Harris has made plays this season, and may finally be hitting his stride. Hailing from Chicago, Harris produced three solo tackles and a season-best two pass defenses last week. 

Also figuring to take on a bigger role will be Deshuan Lee who returned to action on Nov. 4 against Northwestern after missing three games due to injury. The redshirt freshman held his own when he started in Harris’ stead in the season-opener, collecting six tackles in his first-ever collegiate start. 

While handling Illini receiver Isaiah Williams will be difficult, I don’t think Illinois quarterback Luke Altmyer will deliver against the Hawkeyes’ stout defense. Yes, Illinois is hot right now, but it hasn’t played a top-10 defense on the road this season. The Illini rank second-to-last in the conference in sacks allowed, so expect Saturday to be a field day for Iowa’s defensive line and a nightmare for Altmyer. 

I just wish Iowa would finally have a normal, adversity-free week. But alas, such is not the case. But as the Hawkeyes have done all season, they will adjust, and for our purposes, win this one by more than a field goal. 

Under 30.5 

To make this contest more exciting, I think that if Pete or I pick Iowa over, then we receive +500 odds. Now that would tempt me, but I still wouldn’t budge. Granted, Iowa scared plenty after it converted on that fourth down in the red zone late in the fourth quarter, but thankfully Deacon Hill’s kneel probably saved many from heart attacks. 

Such a late threat most likely caused this line to move up, as well as Illinois dropping a whopping 48 points on Indiana last week. But before you freak out, just remember those 48 were against a Hoosier team that ranks dead last in the Big Ten in defensive efficiency. As Pete said, this Iowa defense is a whole different animal.

Even without DeJean, the Hawkeyes have the tools up front and at the linebacker spot to quell Illinois’ offense. I was doubtful they could do the same against the Big Ten’s leading rusher last week, but the Hawkeyes totally proved me wrong. Considering Illinois’ aforementioned porous offensive line, the Illini’s recent stretch of passing prowess will come to an end at Kinnick Stadium. 

The last time Iowa faced off against this poor of a front five was against Purdue in October. That day, the defense racked up six sacks and 12 tackles for loss in a 20-16 victory. And considering how much the Hawkeye defense has grown this season, I doubt Illinois will put up more than 13 points in this one. 

At the end of the day, Iowa’s 400-yard performance against Rutgers yielded just 22 points. That wouldn’t even do the job for the now-defunct Drive for 325. Need I also remind you these two teams played in a “riveting” 9-6 game last season? 

In any Big Ten West game, the end zone doesn’t come easy. Trust in history and take the under. 

Lock of the Week: No. 1 Georgia -10 vs. No. 18 Tennessee 

I’m going back-to-back weeks in support of dominant teams. Rightfully situated in the top spot in the CFP rankings, the Bulldogs have been on a roll, even for their high standards. Against ranked foes Ole Miss and Missouri, Georgia won by an average of 22 points. 

Granted, both of those wins were at home, but playing in Knoxville won’t be too hard a challenge for the back-to-back national champions. Plus, in the last two meetings with the Volunteers, the Bulldogs have won by an average of 19 points. 

With just one turnover in its last three games, Georgia is thriving. Ten points should be no problem. 

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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.
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.