Odds & Picks for Minnesota vs. Iowa: Why to Play the First Half of This College Football Game

Odds & Picks for Minnesota vs. Iowa: Why to Play the First Half of This College Football Game article feature image

Matthew Holst/Getty Images. Pictured: Tyler Goodson.

Minnesota vs. Iowa Odds

Saturday, Nov. 13
3:30 p.m. ET
Big Ten Network
Minnesota Odds
-105o / -115u
Iowa Odds
-105o / -115u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The battle for the Floyd of Rosedale commences in Iowa City on Saturday as Minnesota takes on No. 20 Iowa.

The Golden Gophers have had an up-and-down season in Year 5 under PJ Fleck, losing to Ohio State and Bowling Green in two of their first four games before rattling off a four-game win streak that ended last weekend against Illinois.

Minnesota is technically still alive to win the Big Ten West, but it has to win out to have any chance of the conference championship game.

Iowa rebounded from back-to-back losses last week by beating Northwestern in a defensive slugfest  17-12 on the road.

The Hawkeyes also can still win the Big Ten West but need a lot of help, with both Wisconsin and Purdue holding the tiebreaker over them.

Minnesota Golden Gophers

Gophers Offense

Tanner Morgan has really struggled this season under center for Minnesota. He has a 74.4 passing grade with only six big-time throws and seven turnover-worthy plays, per Pro Football Focus.

The Gophers are 93rd passing success rate and 56th in Expected Points Added (EPA) per pass, which is a major issue going up against the best secondary in the Big Ten that is set to get one of its star cornerbacks back from injury.

The Minnesota rushing attack hasn't been what it was projected to be since Mohamed Ibrahim went down with a season-ending injury in the opening game against Ohio State.

The Gophers are only gaining 4.5 yards per carry and rank 50th in rushing success rate and 47th in offensive line yards. Iowa's top-20 rush defense will be a problem for Minnesota, which has run the ball 70.3% of the time this season.

Gophers Defense

Minnesota's defense has been slightly above average this season. The Gophers are allowing only 4.9 yards per play and rank 24th in EPA per play allowed.

Minnesota will have a big advantage up front against an Iowa offensive line that has really struggled of late. The Gophers are 37th in rushing success rate allowed, 37th in defensive line yards and 33rd in rushing explosiveness allowed.

Also, Iowa has one of the worst rushing attacks in the Big Ten and is running the ball 55.3% of the time. Expect Minnesota to slow down Tyler Goodson and the rest of the Hawkeyes backfield.

Minnesota's secondary will also have a big advantage over Iowa since the Gophers are only allowing 6.9 yards per attempt and rank 59th in passing success rate allowed.

Iowa has struggled in pass protection, so Minnesota should be able to live in the backfield all game, which will help its secondary tremendously.

Iowa Hawkeyes

Hawkeyes Offense

Iowa's last three outings against Purdue, Wisconsin and Northwestern were 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 per pass and EPA per rush, which is crazy considering how good their defense has been this season.

Iowa has been forced to make a change at quarterback to Alex Padilla, with Spencer Petras currently nursing a shoulder injury. Padilla had to come after the third drive against Northwestern last weekend and wasn't overly impressive, averaging just 6.4 yards per pass attempt.

However, this game will likely not be on Padilla's shoulders because for the Iowa offense to be successful, it has to establish a consistent rushing attack given its high percentage of rushing plays.

The Hawkeyes rank 127th in Rushing Success Rate and 130th in Offensive Line Yards despite having one of the most dynamic running backs in the Big Ten in Goodson, as well as the best center in college football in Tyler Linderbaum.

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Hawkeyes Defense

It's incredibly difficult to throw the ball on this Iowa secondary and to make matters worse for Morgan, cornerback Riley Moss is set to return for the Hawkeyes.

Iowa's secondary grades out as the No. 2 unit in all of college football, per Pro Football Focus, and cornerbacks Matt Hankins and Moss each have coverage grades over 81. Iowa is only allowing opposing quarterbacks to throw for 5.8 yards per attempt and is 16th in the country in EPA per pass allowed.

However, the front seven is going to be called on more often on Saturday, given how often the Gophers run the ball.

Fortunately for Iowa, its front seven has actually been just as dominant as the secondary this season. The Hawkeyes are only allowing 2.9 yards per rush attempt, rank 19th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, ninth in Defensive Line Yards, third in EPA per rush and first in explosive rushing allowed.

That's exactly how you shut down a Minnesota offense that runs the ball at the fourth-highest rate in the country.

Minnesota vs. Iowa Matchup Analysis

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

Minnesota Offense vs. Iowa Defense
Rush Success5019
Line Yards479
Pass Success9332
Pass Blocking**3675
Big Play714
Finishing Drives6846
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Iowa Offense vs. Minnesota Defense
Rush Success12737
Line Yards13037
Pass Success11853
Pass Blocking**11156
Big Play12932
Finishing Drives11281
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling8938
Middle 83366
SP+ Special Teams607
Plays per Minute129102
Rush Rate70.3% (4)55.3% (64)

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

Minnesota vs. Iowa Betting Pick

I think this game is going to be a defensive slugfest between two of the slowest-paced teams in the country — both offenses rank outside the top 100 in plays per minute.

With this being Padilla's first start, I'd imagine Iowa is not going to open things up in the first half, which leads me to think this will be a low-scoring game heading into halftime. Also, first-half unders have been very profitable in Kirk Ferentz's Iowa career.

Therefore, I think there is some value on Under 17.5 points for the first half, which is currently available at DraftKings.

Pick: 1H Under 17.5

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