College Football Odds & Picks for West Virginia vs. Iowa State: Bet the Under in Saturday’s Defensive Battle
Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: West Virginia defensive tackle Dante Stills.
- Big 12 QBs Jarret Doege and Brock Purdy are set to square off in Ames with a Big 12 title game spot in the balance.
- Iowa State hopes to ride its veteran QB and strong defense to a berth in the conference championship game with a win over the Mountaineers.
- BJ Cunningham explains how he’s betting this game and why he doesn’t expect a high-scoring affair.
West Virginia vs. Iowa State Odds
|West Virginia Odds||+5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Iowa State Odds||-5.5 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||+170/-215 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||48 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET|
Iowa State looks to secure its spot in the Big 12 Championship game when it hosts West Virginia on Saturday in a crucial showdown.
The Cyclones have very nearly locked down a spot in the title game, and a win would clinch their spot. They went into Austin last week and walked out with a 23-20 victory over Texas in a defensive slugfest. Although the offense gets most of the shine, the Cyclones’ defense has been the real star this year.
West Virginia had its matchup against Oklahoma postponed last week due to COVID-19 issues. For the Mountaineers, it has been a season of close calls, but still a successful one for second-year head coach Neal Brown. A win here would move the Mountaineers to 6-3 and put them on their way to a prominent bowl game.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Jarret Doege has been pretty efficient for the Mountaineers this season, throwing for 7.2 yards per attempt and 13 touchdowns. One benefit Doege had coming into the season is his entire receiving corps returning after last year. He’s developed a nice connection with Winston Wright Jr., who already has 32 catches and is averaging 11.8 yards per catch. He’ll be a tough matchup for Iowa State, which is weak at the cornerback position.
Where West Virginia has struggled is in the run game. The Mountaineers rank 101st in Rushing Success and are carrying the ball for only 3.6 yards per carry. The main issue is their weak offensive line that lost their two best starters from last season.
The key for West Virginia’s offense is to not become one dimensional. In its three losses this season, it has failed to rush for more than 100 yards. Coincidentally, in the Mountaineers’ four wins, they’ve rushed for more than 100 yards and have averaged 5.04 yards per carry.
If West Virginia can’t establish the run against a solid Iowa State run defense, it might have difficulty consistently moving the ball.
The Mountaineers’ front seven is stout with a ton of talent and experience. The Stills brothers — Darius and Dante — have been wreaking havoc on the defensive line, combining for 46 tackles and 5.5 sacks on the season. Those two have led West Virginia to become one of the best teams against the run in the Big 12. The Mountaineers are allowing only 3.5 yards per carry and rank 17th in Defensive Rushing Success, per College Football Data.
Heading into the season, it looked like West Virginia was going to struggle against the pass since it lost two starting corners to graduation. However, that has not been the case.
The Mountaineers have been one of the best pass defenses in the country, allowing a measly 5.5 yards per attempt while ranking fourth in Defensive Passing Success. Iowa State’s Brock Purdy is one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12, but West Virginia’s secondary should be up to the task.
Iowa State Cyclones
Looking at the calendar, it seems it’s no longer Brocktober despite what Action Network senior producer Matt Mitchell says:
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds Announces Emergency BROCKTOBER Extension pic.twitter.com/5ryn7txh0Z
— Matt Mitchell (@olboyunclemitch) November 27, 2020
Purdy has actually taken a step back in 2020 in terms of efficiency. He’s throwing the ball for only 7.4 yards per attempt, which is the lowest average of his career. That has led to the Cyclones ranking 18th in Passing Success and 108th in passing explosiveness, per College Football Data. He’ll no doubt face his toughest test of the season against West Virginia’s top-five pass defense.
However, the Iowa State offense doesn’t entirely run through Purdy. The Cyclones also have a dynamic running game led by running back Breece Hall, who is averaging a ridiculous 6.3 yards per carry. Even though Hall has been stellar, his matchup against the Mountaineers’ top-20 rush defense will undoubtedly prove to be difficult.
The Cyclones’ defense has been the strength of the team this year. Iowa State sits at 21st in Defensive Success Rate, per College Football Data.
The strength of the Iowa State defense has been its front seven. The team’s allowing only 3.2 yards per rush attempt. That has led to a ranking of 18th in Rushing Success and 24th in rushing explosiveness allowed. Given how terrible West Virginia’s rushing attack has been, the Cyclones could very easily force the Mountaineers to become one dimensional.
If there is an area where the Cyclones have struggled, it’s against the pass. They rank 44th in Defensive Passing Success and are allowing 7.8 yards per attempt. In fact, last weekend Sam Ehlinger torched the Cyclones for 10.3 yards per attempt. If West Virginia is going to find success on offense, it’s going to have to come through the air.
Betting Analysis & Pick
With how good these two defenses are, I think we are going to see a low-scoring affair. West Virginia’s secondary should be able to shut down Purdy, and Iowa State’s defense should force the Mountaineers to become one-dimensional.
I have the total projected at 41.92 points, so I think there’s plenty of value on under 49.5 points.
Pick: Under 49.5 (down to 46.5).