Iowa vs Northwestern Odds, Prediction & Picks: The Surprising Over/Under Bet to Make

Iowa vs Northwestern Odds, Prediction & Picks: The Surprising Over/Under Bet to Make article feature image

Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill.

Iowa vs Northwestern Odds

Saturday, Nov. 4
3:30 p.m. ET
Iowa Odds
-110o / -110u
Northwestern Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

Iowa and Northwestern meet at Wrigley Field in a very important game that could decide the Big Ten West Division on Saturday.

Iowa is coming off a bye, but the last time out, it put forth one of the worst offensive performances of the season in a two-point home loss to Minnesota.

During the bye week, some news dropped in Iowa City that long-time offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz would not be returning next season.

Northwestern started the season behind the eight ball, but to be sitting here today at 4-4 is a major accomplishment. It pulled off a big upset as 13-point home underdogs against Maryland in its last game with a backup quarterback.

The Wildcats have always given Iowa trouble, as they're 8-8 in their last 16 encounters.

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Iowa Hawkeyes

The Iowa offense has been pretty bad this season, and there aren't many data points suggesting that it's going to get better any time soon.

With Cade McNamara out for the season, Deacon Hill has been a huge downgrade at the quarterback position.

In 98 pass attempts this season, Hill has a 37.8% completion percentage and a 44.4% on-target percentage, per Sports Info Solutions, ranking him last among quarterbacks with more than 50 pass attempts.

To make matters worse, both Luke Lachey and Erick All are out for the season, which is a massive blow for a team that utilizes its tight ends more than any other team in the country.

The other negative aspect of Hill is he puts the ball up for grabs a lot. He had five turnover-worthy plays against the Gophers, which gave them solid field position and he could do the same here against Northwestern.

Even though they've been bad, it's not like Iowa has been completely hopeless running the football. Leshon Williams has big-play ability and is averaging 5.5 yards per carry on the season.


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Iowa has one of the best defenses in the country, and it's because of how good its secondary has been. The Hawkeyes are graded as the second-best coverage unit in the country, per PFF, and they're allowing only 4.9 yards per attempt, which is also second in the nation.

However, teams can run on this Iowa front seven, as Iowa ranks 106th in Stuff Rate and 59th in Offensive Line Yards. It's also done a poor job of generating Havoc, which really isn't that surprising for a Phil Parker defense that historically has one of the lowest blitz rates in college football.

Iowa also struggles to get teams off the field on third down, ranking 106th in Power Success Rate Allowed, which measures the percentage of running plays on third or fourth down from two yards or closer in which an offense either converted a first down or scores a touchdown.

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Northwestern Wildcats

Northwestern quarterback Ben Bryant missed the last game against Maryland, but Brendan Sullivan sure was efficient in the win. He attempted only 23 passes but completed 15 of them for 265 yards and two touchdowns.

Bryant is not expected to play in this game, which means Sullivan will get another start. But this time, it's against one of the best secondaries in the country.

The Northwestern rush offense has not been explosive, but it has been effective, ranking 53rd in Rushing Success Rate even if none of their runningbacks are averaging 4.0 yards per carry.

Even though the Iowa offense has been bad, let's not sit here and act like the Northwestern defense has been good. The Wildcats really can't stop anything right now, ranking outside the top 70 in both Passing and Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

Specifically looking at their secondary, they're giving up a lot of big plays. The Wildcats rank 101st in explosive passing allowed against a pretty weak schedule and are allowing a 45.4% Positive EPA Play rate against the pass, which is 99th in the country.

Even against the run, they've been very average, ranking 83rd in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and 70th in the EPA/Rush Allowed.

The question is, will they be able to push Iowa's offensive line around? Northwestern has been very average in key metrics like Defensive Line Yards and Stuff Rate.

If they can't bring Iowa's running backs down at the line of scrimmage, it gives the Hawkeyes a really good chance of controlling this game on the ground.

Iowa vs Northwestern

Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Iowa and Northwestern match up statistically:

Iowa Offense vs. Northwestern Defense
Rush Success13283
Line Yards13373
Pass Success13275
Finishing Drives118112
Quality Drives13183
Northwestern Offense vs. Iowa Defense
Rush Success5337
Line Yards12459
Pass Success11112
Finishing Drives324
Quality Drives1088
Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling1043
PFF Coverage289
Special Teams SP+849
Middle 87375
Seconds per Play28.3 (94)25.5 (45)
Rush Rate58.3% (32)52.9% (96)
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Iowa vs Northwestern

Betting Pick & Prediction

I think there's a misconception about the pace of this game. If you go back to Iowa's last game against Minnesota, the Gophers play at one of the slowest paces in the country. So, when you combine that with Iowa's pace of 94th in the country, you get an incredibly slow game with two teams that run the ball at around 60% of the time.

Northwestern is nothing like Minnesota at all. The Wildcats are playing at above average pace this season, ranking 45th in seconds per play while running the ball on a little bit less than 53% of their offensive plays.

While Iowa's offense has been historically bad and it's lost all of its weapons, let's not act like the Hawkeyes are playing against a top-tier defense.

Special teams are likely going to play a big part in this game, especially field goals. Iowa has a fantastic kicker in Drew Stevens, who's 13-for-16 on the season and hasn't missed inside 40 yards.

Northwestern kicker Jack Olsen has been even better, going 11-for-12 on the season with his only miss coming from over 50 yards.

The weather at Wrigley Field is going to be really pleasant with temperatures in the 50s and wind speeds below five mph.

This total opened at 29.5 — the lowest in the history of college football — but it's been bet up to 30.5 at most books, which shows that it's a little too low.

I have 35.8 points projected for this game, so as gross as it is, I like the value on over 30.5 points, which is below a key number if this game ends 17-14.

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