College Football Odds & Picks for Wisconsin vs. Iowa: Snow & Tough Defense Puts Betting Value on Over/Under
Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Brandon Smith.
- A red-hot Iowa team hosts Wisconsin, which is coming off a demoralizing loss to Indiana.
- The Hawkeyes have won five straight behind an impressive defense, while the Badgers have thrived this season against both the run and pass.
- The strong defensive play and bad weather conditions give value to betting the under, as BJ Cunningham explains.
Wisconsin vs. Iowa Odds
|Wisconsin Odds||-2 [BET NOW]|
|Iowa Odds||+2 [BET NOW]|
|Moneyline||-132/+108 [BET NOW]|
|Over/Under||41.5 [BET NOW]|
|Time||Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||Big Ten Network|
Following a disappointing loss at home against Indiana, Wisconsin heads west this week for Saturday’s game against Iowa.
The Badgers’ schedule has been ravaged by COVID-19 and has kept them out of the Big Ten title game. In their two most important games of the season, Wisconsin scored a total of 13 points in losses to Indiana and Northwestern. The Badgers will have to put all of that behind them as they prepare to play one of the hottest teams in the country.
Iowa started out the season with heartbreaking losses to Purdue and Northwestern. Since then, the Hawkeyes have rattled off five straight wins and are back inside the top 25. They have lost four consecutive games to the Badgers, though, so this might be their best opportunity to break the streak.
After his performance in the Badgers’ season opener against Illinois, Graham Metrz looked like the best quarterback in the country. Since then, however, the Badgers have struggled to throw the ball.
Outside of the Illinois game, Mertz is only averaging 5.8 yards per attempt and has thrown three touchdowns and four interceptions. That has led the Badgers to have the 76th-best offense in terms of Passing Success, so Mertz is likely going to struggle again on Saturday against a solid Iowa secondary in bad weather.
As it is every year, the rushing attack is the strength of the Wisconsin offense. The Badgers rank ninth in Rushing Success, per College Football Data, and average 4.4 yards per attempt.
However, they haven’t been able to break off many explosive runs and rank 116th in rushing explosiveness. That is going to be an issue against an Iowa defense ranked third in the country in rushing explosiveness allowed.
While Wisconsin’s offense has taken a step back over its past few games, the defense has remained one of the best in the Big Ten. The Badgers have been the best team in country against the run, allowing only 2.9 yards per attempt. They are the first overall in Defensive Rushing Success and second in rushing explosiveness allowed, per College Football Data.
That’s going to come in handy against a run-heavy team like Iowa.
Wisconsin’s secondary is not far off the quality of its front seven either, as that unit ranks sixth in defensive passing success. In their last two games against Northwestern and Indiana, the Badgers allowed 5.5 yards per pass attempt.
Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras and the passing attack have only been average, so I think Wisconsin should have no trouble shutting them down.
One of the reasons Iowa has won five consecutive games is due to its rushing attack behind the duo of Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent. The Hawkeyes are the 27th-ranked offense in terms of Rushing Success, per College Football Data, averaging 4.7 yards per carry.
However, the Hawkeyes are not explosive by any means, as they are in the bottom half of college football in rushing explosiveness. Saturday’s tilt against Wisconsin’s rush defense is going to be a massive step up in competition.
Petras has been average in his first season under center, throwing for only 6.2 yards per attempt. However, “Tight End U” is not dead in Iowa City, as Sam LaPorta is the Hawkeyes’ leading receiver this year with 26 catches and is averaging 10.0 yards per catch.
Iowa is only throwing the ball 46 percent of the time and given how good Wisconsin’s run defense has been, Petras may be called upon to make players more than usual.
The main reason Iowa is on its current winning streak is because of its “bend, but don’t break” defense. This defensive mindset drives Hawkeyes fans crazy sometimes, but it has led them to be the top team in the nation in explosive plays allowed. They are also top five in both rushing and passing explosiveness allowed, so Wisconsin’s offensive struggles may continue.
Iowa ranks in the top half of both Defensive Rushing and Passing Success, but perhaps the most impressive stat is something that will make head coach Kirk Ferentz smile. Iowa is 10th in opponent average starting field position.
In a game like this where points are going to come at a premium, starting field position is going to be vital.
Betting Analysis & Pick
The weather in Iowa City is not going to be ideal with substantial wind and possible snow in the forecast.
According to our Bet Labs Database, betting the under when the winds are over 10+ mph and the total is in the 40s has been a profitable strategy.
That is likely going to lead to another defensive struggle, as is usually the case between these two teams.
I have the total projected at 34.26, so I think there’s value in taking under 41.5 points with two elite defenses and bad weather.
Pick: Under 41.5 (down to 38.5).