Iowa vs Wisconsin Odds, Picks: Saturday College Football Betting Preview

Iowa vs Wisconsin Odds, Picks: Saturday College Football Betting Preview article feature image
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Tony Quinn/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Dane Belton (left) and Matt hankins (right).

  • The Iowa Hawkeyes take on the Wisconsin Badgers in Saturday Big Ten West action.
  • This game features an extremely low total under 38 — especially low for a non-service academy matchup.
  • Check out BJ Cunningham's betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game below.

Iowa vs. Wisconsin Odds

Saturday, Oct. 30
12 p.m. ET
ESPN
Iowa Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
+3.5
-115
37
+100o / -120u
+130
Wisconsin Odds
Spread Total Moneyline
-3.5
-105
37
+100o / -120u
-150
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Big Ten West rivals meet in Madison for a defensive slugfest, as ninth-ranked Iowa takes on Wisconsin.

Iowa’s undefeated season was put to bed two weeks ago as Purdue stormed into Kinnick Stadium and left with a convincing 24-7 victory. Iowa is still in the driver’s seat to win the Big Ten West, but it will have to beat Wisconsin in Madison for the first time since 2015.

The biggest question mark for the Hawks coming into this game is if the offense can move the ball effectively against one of the best defenses in the nation. If it can’t, it’s going to be tough for Kirk Ferentz & Co. to escape Madison with a win.

Wisconsin has gotten its season back on track with three straight wins against Illinois, Army and Purdue. The Badgers have given up a total of 27 points in those three games, but they have the same issue as Iowa as their offense is severely struggling, particularly through the air.

So, with a total set at 36.5, if you like defense, this is your Super Bowl.


Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa Offense

Iowa’s last outing against Purdue was a perfect encapsulation of how bad the Hawkeyes’ offense truly is when the defense isn’t getting multiple turnovers and giving them good field position.

Iowa’s offense ranks outside the top 100 in both EPA/Pass and EPA/Rush, which is crazy considering it is ranked ninth in the country.

However, a lot of the blame has to be put on Spencer Petras’ shoulders.

Petras is a great quarterback if he has a clean pocket. His PFF passing grade with a clean pocket is 83.8, but when he’s under pressure, his passing grade drops to 50.5. So, facing a Wisconsin front seven that has the 23rd best pass-rushing grade is going to be a major concern.

To be successful, the Iowa offense has to establish a consistent ground game, considering it’s running the ball 55.5% of the time.

The rushing attack has been really struggling as of late — a 127th ranking in Rushing Success Rate and a 128th ranking in Offensive Line Yards — despite having one of the most dynamic running backs in the Big Ten in Tyler Goodson and the best center in college football in Tyler Linderbaum.

Tyler Linderbaum threw him out the club💀

(via @colecubelic)

pic.twitter.com/VmrzaSerpo

— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 17, 2021

Iowa is going up against one of the best run defenses in college football, so this game is likely going to be in Petras’ hands.


Iowa Defense

While the Purdue passing attack had a lot of success against the Iowa secondary, it’s still really difficult to throw the ball on Iowa.

The Hawkeyes are graded as the No. 2 secondary in all of college football, per PFF, and have one of the best cornerbacks in Matt Hankins.

Highest-graded Big Ten CBs
1. Matt Hankins, Iowa – 86.2
2. Riley Moss, Iowa – 85.4@HawkeyeFootball pic.twitter.com/Lc9lEOpEln

— PFF College (@PFF_College) October 26, 2021

Iowa is only allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for 5.8 yards per attempt and is 16th in the country in EPA/Pass allowed.

The Hawkeyes will be without Riley Moss for another week, which is a huge blow considering he’s the second-best cover corner in the Big Ten, but I don’t think it will have too big of an impact as Graham Mertz has been one of the worst quarterbacks in college football this season.

The Iowa front seven has actually been just as dominant as the secondary. The Hawkeyes are only allowing 2.7 yards per rush attempt. They rank 19th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, 13th in Line Yards, eighth in EPA/Rush and fourth in explosive rushing allowed.

That’s exactly how you slow down a Wisconsin offense that is running the ball 66.8% of the time.


Wisconsin Badgers

Wisconsin Offense

One of the main reasons why Wisconsin’s defense has gone under the radar is because of how bad its offense has been this season.

The Badgers are gaining a measly 5.1 yards per play and rank 129th in EPA/play, with a lot of the blame solely put on the shoulders of Mertz.

Mertz owns a 51.2 passing grade, per PFF, which is the 11th-lowest grade in FBS for a quarterback who has attempted over 100 passes this season.

So, what has Wisconsin done to combat Mertz’s poor play in the passing game? Wisconsin has been running the ball 66.8% of the time, which is the eighth-highest rate in the country.

The rushing attack is gaining 4.7 yards per rush attempt and is 57th in EPA/Rush, but the rushing attack is not explosive at all. The Badgers are 91st in rushing explosiveness, which is a problem going up against Iowa’s defense that is fourth in rushing explosiveness allowed.

So, for Wisconsin to have success on the ground, it’s going to have to have a lot of three- or four-yard runs over and over again.

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Wisconsin Defense

Very quietly, Wisconsin has one of the best defenses in college football, allowing only 3.8 yards per play, which is the third-best mark in FBS.

The Badgers are also the No. 1 team in the country in Success Rate Allowed, and most importantly for this game, they are first in Rushing Success Rate Allowed and second in EPA/Rush.

You simply cannot run the ball on Wisconsin’s front seven, as it allows 1.9 yards per carry. This is about the worst possible matchup for Iowa, which needs to establish a consistent rushing attack to have an efficient offense.

The secondary has been really good as well, as the Badgers are only allowing 6.0 yards per attempt and have a really good pass rush that has allowed Wisconsin to rank sixth in Havoc.

For a quarterback like Petras who really struggles against pressure, this is a terrible matchup.


Iowa vs. Wisconsin Matchup Analysis

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

Iowa Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 127 1
Line Yards 128 2
Pass Success 116 4
Pass Blocking** 108 34
Big Play 129 8
Havoc 117 6
Finishing Drives 109 31
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Wisconsin Offense vs. Iowa Defense
Offense
Defense
Edge
Rush Success 39 19
Line Yards 39 13
Pass Success 127 25
Pass Blocking** 108 71
Big Play 110 22
Havoc 64 31
Finishing Drives 124 39
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling 44 14
Coverage 2 41
Middle 8 55 58
SP+ Special Teams 5 10
Plays per Minute 107 119
Rush Rate 55.5% (64) 66.8% (8)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.


Iowa vs. Wisconsin Betting Pick

When we have a defensive showdown like this, special teams becomes a key part of the game. Both of these teams are top 10 in the country in that department based on SP+.

Further, Iowa’s defense has the second-best average starting position in the country, so punter Tory Taylor has done his job downing 21 punts inside the 20-yard line.

Both of these teams are in the bottom 25 of college football in plays per minute, so the pace of the is game is going to be very slow.

I only have 32.89 points projected for this game, so I think there is some value on the under of 37 points.

Pick: Under 37

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