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 13 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 punter Tory Taylor punts the ball during a football game between Iowa and Illinois at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023. Taylor punted for 413 total yards, averaging 51.6 per play. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 15-13.

Pete Ruden’s (20-13, $1,809) picks:

Nebraska -1.5

This one comes down to motivation.

At 9-2, with a spot in the Big Ten Championship already locked up, the Hawkeyes essentially have nothing to play for. 

Sure, head coach Kirk Ferentz will say they want to get to 10 wins because that makes for a special season. 

While that may be true, it’s not quite as motivating as a team wanting to keep its season alive. That’s exactly what Nebraska will try to do, as it enters this game at 5-6, one win away from bowl eligibility.

The motivation factor helps, but the Cornhuskers also have a few advantages on defense. This unit allows fewer than 20 points and just over 300 yards per game while ranking top-30 in Rushing Success Rate and Finishing Drives and top-40 in Passing Success Rate.

That’s bad news for an Iowa offense that still ranks 131st in Overall Success Rate.

The Hawkeyes have played their best offensively against teams that can’t control the line of scrimmage. Nebraska fits that bill, as it comes in at 107th in Defensive Line Yards. However, the big plays that have propelled the offense to points won’t come easy against a Huskers defense that ranks 14th in explosiveness allowed. 

On the other side, Iowa could have some uncharacteristic struggles against the run game. The Huskers lead the Big Ten with 186 yards per game on the ground and rank top-25 in Offensive Line Yards.

With a few key advantages and motivation on its side, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Matt Rhule’s squad come out victorious at home.

Under 26.5

Iowa has set a record for the lowest over/under multiple times this season. I’ve bet the under on every occasion, and the Hawkeyes have yet to let me down.

So, I’m going back to the well until Iowa proves me wrong.

Both defenses have the advantage in this matchup.

While I noted above that Iowa could struggle a bit against the run, the opposite is true against the pass. Nebraska ranks 125th in Offensive Passing Success Rate, while Iowa owns a mark of eighth in that same category on defense and sits second in PFF coverage grading.

If Nebraska can’t get anything going through the air, it’s going to become incredibly one-dimensional, which bodes well for the under.

Both teams also rank top-25 in rush rate and outside the top 100 in seconds per play. In fact, the Cornhuskers rush the ball on 65% of snaps and run a play every 30 seconds. 

If there’s anything we can be sure of in this game, it’s that the clock will tick early and often.

I’d wait to see if a 27 pops into the market, but with the defensive advantages for both teams and the expected pace, I’ll happily take another Iowa under. 

Lock of the Week: Auburn +14.5 vs. No. 8 Alabama

The Iron Bowl is one of the best rivalries in all of college football. I think we’re in for another good one this year.

Auburn has won three of the last five matchups against Alabama in Jordan-Hare Stadium, and one of its losses came by two in quadruple overtime.

While the Tigers always seem to play the Crimson Tide close at home, they also have plenty of avenues to keep this one within two touchdowns. 

First and foremost, Auburn’s offense has an advantage over Alabama in Finishing Drives, which is the stat most correlated with a team covering the spread.

The Tigers rank top-three in the SEC in rushing offense and 19th nationally in Offensive Rushing Success Rate, which should help them find success on the ground. They can attack this Alabama defense in a lot of ways, as running back Jarquez Hunter and quarterback Payton Thorne have combined for over 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns.

On the other side, Auburn should be able to contain Jalen Milroe and Co. through the air. 

Alabama hasn’t been great from an advanced metrics perspective, ranking 47th in Passing Success Rate and 126th in Havoc Allowed. That could be problematic against an Auburn secondary that sits 23rd in Defensive Passing Success Rate and 14th in PFF coverage grading. To boot, the Tigers also rank top-40 in Havoc, meaning they should disrupt Alabama’s offense by causing negative plays relatively consistently.

If Auburn cornerbacks Jaylin Simpson and DJ James — who have combined for six interceptions this season — can create a turnover or two, that could swing things in the Tigers’ favor dramatically.

Auburn always seems to play well against Bama in front of a raucous Jordan-Hare crowd, so I’ll back it to keep things from getting completely out of hand in this edition of the Iron Bowl.

Matt McGowan’s (23-10, $2079) picks: 

Iowa +1.5 

The Hawkeyes are looking for revenge after last season’s heartbreaker at Kinnick, so that will definitely be a factor in this one. And to be underdogs as the Big Ten West champs? Come on now. I’m not driving to Nebraska on Thanksgiving day for nothing. Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz just won’t let that happen. 

Iowa offensive lineman Mason Richman put it best at media availability on Tuesday: “There’s no downside to winning.” And that’s exactly what the Hawkeyes will do on Friday, or, at the very worst lose by one point in yet another heartbreaker. Nebraska may have mobile quarterbacks in Heinrich Haarberg and Chubba Purdy, but remember Rutgers’ Gavin Wimsatt? I was afraid of what his mobility might do against coordinator Phil Parker’s defense, and I looked like an absolute idiot on Saturday. 

I’m not making the same mistake again. And granted, while Iowa is on the road for this one, I’ve seen photos of Memorial Stadium in Lincoln with plenty of empty seats just minutes before kickoff. Nebraska fans can think all they want about “Big Red” because that’s literally the only highlight of their state, but they shouldn’t be too overconfident. If anything, this might be a trap game for them. 

Under 26.5

It would just feel wrong to take the over in the last game of the regular season. Nebraska’s defense is not too far off from Iowa’s in terms of opponent points and rushing yards, so any trips to the end zone from either team will be a rare occurrence.. Plus, it’ll be a nice 28 degrees on game day. Or, as I like to call it, some “football weather.” Now if only it would snow, now that would make my day. But only during the game. I still have to drive back. 

Both defenses yield less than 20 points per game, and in all three of Iowa’s trophy games this season, the highest total has been 33 points. And that was from Week 2, which we all know was a lot different team. If Iowa still had those weapons today, then maybe I give the over a second thought, but such is not the case in the world we live in. So, simply based on reality, I’m taking the under for the *checks notes* the 13th time this season. 

Lock of the Week: No. 1 Georgia -23 over  Georgia Tech 

As the late, great Jim Croce once beautifully said, “I’m walking back to Georgia/ And I hope she will take me back.” And by she, I mean he. And by he, I mean Georgia head football coach Kirby Smart, whose Bulldogs are top dogs in the nation and are set to play perhaps the worst rivalry in existence this weekend. 

Georgia and Georgia Tech have no business even hating each other. Sure, Georgia State isn’t a Power Five school, and they don’t really have other options, but the two aren’t even in the same stratosphere. One is back-to-back national champs and the other hasn’t been relevant since 2016, ironically when alum Calvin Johnson retired from the NFL. After doing further research, I realized the Yellow Jackets apparently won the national title in 1990, but not in the Coaches’ Poll and not the AP Poll. Man, college football was weird back then. And we complain about the CFP today. Come on now. 

Anyway, over the past five meetings, the Bulldogs have outscored the Yellow Jackets by an average of 33.6 points per game. And it’s not like the Dawgs are struggling when they head into this one. They are red hot right now, having beaten three ranked teams in a row by at least nine points each. Tight end Brock Bowers is back and scored a touchdown last week against Tennessee, and Smart obviously wants to stay undefeated to hold onto that No. 1 seed. 

Now, I don’t usually pick the same team to cover twice, especially in consecutive weeks, and especially with this large a spread. But in a rivalry weekend where plenty of games will come down to the wire, this one will be a laugher. 

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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.
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.