South Dakota State vs. Iowa Picks, Odds: The Bet to Make for Week 1 Showdown in Kinnick Stadium
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images. Pictured: Spencer Petras (Iowa)
South Dakota State vs. Iowa Odds
The South Dakota State Jackrabbits will travel to Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City to face the Iowa Hawkeyes in a nationally-televised matchup.
This first meeting between these programs features two of the longest-tenured head coaches in all of college football. Kirk Ferentz is entering his 24th season at Iowa, and John Stiegelmeier enters his 26th at South Dakota State.
Iowa enters the new season after finishing 2021 at 10-4 (7-2 in Big Ten) while earning a spot in the Big Ten Championship game.
The Hawkeyes look to pick up where they left off last season, earning votes that kept them just outside the preseason AP Top 25. Iowa will leverage veteran leadership on both sides of the ball, as it looks to win the conference title for the first time since 2004.
South Dakota State enters the 2022 season after going 11-4 last year and advancing to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons before losing to eventual champion, North Dakota State.
The Jackrabbits look to be a formidable force in FCS again this year, ranking second and third in the Stats Perform preseason media poll and the initial FCS coaches’ poll, respectively.
Iowa is only 3-6 against the spread when facing an FCS opponent. This will be the 12th FBS opponent South Dakota State has faced in program history, amassing a 2-9 record when jumping ranks from FCS to FBS.
Iowa does need to proceed with respect for the Jackrabbits because they opened the season last year at Colorado State, winning in convincing fashion, 42-23. Iowa played the same Colorado State team just a few weeks later and won, 24-14.
Can South Dakota State do the unthinkable two years in a row, or will defensive-minded Iowa be ready to smother an FCS coup?
The Jackrabbits have a slew of returning productivity that will position them to make a push for an automatic bid into the FCS Playoffs.
Running back Isaiah Davis, wide receiver Jaxon Janke and tight end Tucker Kraft are all on initial watch lists for the 2022 Walter Payton Award, which is presented annually to the top offensive player in FCS.
Davis is returning to action after missing most the 2021 season due to injury, and will be replacing two-time Walter Payton Award finalist, Pierre Strong Jr., who is with the New England Patriots now.
Davis is averaging nearly eight yards per carry in his career and had three consecutive 100-yard performances in the FCS Playoffs.
Quarterback Mark Gronkowski will take over starting duties after sitting out last fall due to an injury suffered in the FCS Championship game during the 2020-2021 spring season.
During the modified spring season of 2020-2021, Gronkowski started all 10 games as a true freshman, earning league Freshman of the Year honors.
Gronkowski will have a variety of aerial outlets with Janke and Kraft.
The Havoc-inducing Jackrabbit defense led all of FCS last season with 21 interceptions. The defense had 11 different players with at least one interception, and the team had picks in 12 of 15 games.
The secondary looks to be strong again this year, with returning players contributing 18 of last year’s 21 interceptions.
The South Dakota State defensive line returns its two-leading sack talliers in seniors Reece Winkelman and Caleb Sanders. Winkelman has registered 15 sacks and 30 tackles for loss, whereas Sanders has been equally productive with a career-long 15 sacks and 32 tackles for loss.
Interestingly, South Dakota State will feature three sets of twin brothers on the roster.
Iowa will be looking to redeem itself on offense after finishing the 2021 season ranked 99th in scoring offense, mustering together just 23.2 points per game.
The troubles were equally passing and rushing offense, and the Hawkeyes finished in the bottom third in FBS in both metrics. Being able to hang in a Big Ten shootout will be important with Ohio State and Michigan on the schedule this year.
Quarterback Spencer Petras will be the starter on Saturday, making his 20th-career start. Petras ranks 13th in career passing yards for the Hawkeyes, but did struggle last season.
In 2021, Petras competed 57.2% of his passes for 1,880 yards (6.5/attempt), 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Petras will feel some pressure from backup Alex Padilla if things start to get squirrely.
The backfield will feature a duo of Williams' replacing Tyler Goodson, who has moved on to the NFL. In the Citrus Bowl, Gavin Williams rushed for 98 yards on 16 carries and Lashon Williams added 42 yards on 10 attempts.
Additionally, the Hawkeyes added Kaleb Johnson, a three-star recruit who should bring additional depth to the running back corps.
The offensive woes of last season were completely offset by a defense that was outstanding, finishing 13th in FBS by only giving up 19.2 points per game.
As one of the best units in the country, Iowa led the nation in interceptions and was third in turnovers forced with 30.
The Hawkeyes look poised to pick up exactly where they left off, with two defensive players, LB Jack Campbell and DB Riley Moss, mentioned as preseason All-Americans.
The Hawkeyes will return all three starting linebackers from last year’s bruising squad. Campbell, Seth Benson and Jestin Jacobs are on the preseason watch list for the Butkus Award.
Up front, Iowa returns three starters on the defensive line and seven of its top eight from last year. The secondary will be anchored by defensive back Moss, and the Hawkeyes have safety Kaevon Merriweather back for his third year as a starter.
The Iowa defense is reloaded and looks poised to repeat as a top defense again this season.
South Dakota State vs. Iowa Betting Pick
South Dakota State is a dangerous team and shouldn’t be slept on because it resides in the FCS. However, expect Coach Ferentz to be extremely prepared for South Dakota State.
In 2016, FCS team North Dakota State came into Kinnick and upset the then No. 13-ranked Hawkeyes. That will serve as a cautionary tale for the coaching staff and players that these elite FCS teams cannot be taken lightly.
As usual, the Iowa defense will lead the charge, as it is completely reloaded after last season’s standout showing. The Hawkeyes' running game will play second fiddle behind what will be an improved offensive line.
Quarterback Petras will have the leeway to settle into the game behind the running game, and I expect him to show continued progress after returning to the starting lineup late last season.
I like laying the double-digit chalk at Kinnick, as the Hawkeyes will be too much in the trenches for the visiting Jackrabbits.
Pick: Iowa -15.5 (Play to -17)