Indiana vs. Iowa Odds, Pick, Prediction: Total Has Value in Week 1 College Football Matchup (Sept. 4)
Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Jack Koerner.
- The Big Ten is back with a bang on Saturday when the Iowa Hawkeyes host the Indiana Hoosiers in a top-25 showdown at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
- Both teams ended the season on a high note last year, making this opening-week matchup even more intriguing instantly.
- Check out BJ Cunningham's full betting guide with odds, picks, and predictions for the game.
Indiana vs. Iowa Odds
Perhaps the biggest game outside of Georgia vs. Clemson takes place in Iowa City on Saturday afternoon, as the 18th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers battle the 17th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes at Kinnick Stadium.
While it’s a big matchup, there’s a good chance it starts off slow. Let’s break down how that lends itself to a bet.
Indiana’s 2020 season was something out of a movie, going 6-1 in Big Ten play in year five under Tom Allen. The Hoosiers got all the way up to seventh in the AP Top 25, but repeating that kind of success this season is almost impossible given how difficult their schedule is.
According to PFF, Indiana has the seventh-most difficult schedule in the country, and one of those difficult tests is against Iowa to open the season. The Hoosiers are +1600 to win the Big Ten and have a win total of 7.5. Indiana won eight games in 2019, and it was the first time its gone over seven wins since 1993.
Indiana’s offensive success this season is going to be predicated on the play and health of quarterback Michael Penix Jr. He’s had three season-ending injuries in his time at Indiana, including a torn ACL that knocked him out of the final two games of 2020.
Penix, if healthy, may be the best quarterback in the Big Ten this season. In six games last year he averaged only 7.5 yards per attempt, throwing 14 touchdowns and four picks.
However, his PFF graded numbers were off the charts, with a 10.3% big-time throw rate (third in FBS), 68.4 passing grade versus pressure (seventh in FBS) and 80.3 true dropback passing grade (21st in FBS). Penix also gets his top pass-catcher Ty Fryfogle back, and Tom Allen added Florida State transfer D.J. Matthews, who was a four-star recruit coming out of high school.
Most passing yards under pressure in a single game in the @PFF_College era
1. Michael Penix Jr. (2020 Week 12 vs Ohio State) – 305
2. Patrick Mahomes (2016 Week 8 vs Oklahoma) – 278
3. Patrick Mahomes (2016 Week 6 vs KState) – 273 pic.twitter.com/KD0hM5CLLK
— Anthony Treash (@PFF_Anthony) November 22, 2020
With that being said, Penix will not be facing much pressure against Iowa because Phil Parker’s defense has one of the lowest blitz rates in the Big Ten but is also one of the best secondaries in the country.
The biggest problem for Indiana offensively last season was its rushing attack. The Hoosiers ranked 98th in Rushing Success, 119th in rushing explosiveness, and 62nd in Offensive Line Yards.
Their top two rushers from last season are now gone, giving the workload to sophomore Sampson James, who only carried the ball 32 times last season. The offensive line only loses one starter from last season, but they will have to improve in the run game or else everything is going to be on Penix’s shoulders.
Indiana without a doubt has a top-15 defense in FBS coming into the season. According to TARP, the Hoosiers bring back 74% of their defense from 2020, but they do lose their defensive coordinator Kane Wommack, who is now the head coach at South Alabama.
There are two question marks with the Indiana defense. The first is if they will have the same success under new defensive coordinator Charlton Warren, who was recently the defensive backs coach at Georgia.
Indiana’s defensive line will lose its top performer from last season in defensive tackle Jerome Johnson, but gets its other seven main contributors back, along with three transfers to improve depth.
The Hoosiers defensive line, though, really struggled against the run, ranking 113th in Defensive Line Yards. So, it’s going to be difficult going up against an Iowa offense that runs the ball at a high rate and has one of the best offensive lines in the Big Ten.
The linebacking corps and secondary is where Indiana is going to cause Iowa a ton of problems. They have one of the best pass-rushing linebackers in the country back in Micah McFadden who blitzed over 44% of the time in 2020 and earned a 90.8 pass rushing grade, per PFF. He will be a problem for Spencer Petras, who ranked 83rd in FBS versus the blitz, per PFF.
The secondary is by far the biggest strength for Indiana, and they have two of the best corners in the Big Ten in Reese Taylor and Jaylin Williams. Williams actually led all of Power Five last season with 10 passing stops and three interceptions when playing out of zone. Iowa has one of the worst wide receiving corps in the Big Ten, so they should be able to dominate and improve on their coverage ranking of 42nd last season, per PFF.
The Iowa Hawkeyes enter the season on a six-game win streak after losing their first two games of the 2020 season. This will be year 22 for Kirk Ferentz who has had a winning record at Iowa in his last eight seasons in charge.
Iowa is loaded once again on the offensive line and in the secondary. However, a lot of Iowa’s success this season is going to be predicated on the development of Spencer Petras in the passing game and if its under-sized defensive line can outperform expectations.
The success of Brian Ferentz’s offense is always predicated on two things: 1) having a consistent, successful rushing attack and 2) being able to consistently get the ball to the tight ends in the passing game. Ferentz, as a coordinator, has been way below average as a play-caller in the passing game, and it showed last season, as his team ranked 99th in EPA Per Pass.
Spencer Petras enters year two as the starting quarterback, and he is pretty much the definition of a game-manager. He threw for only 6.4 yards per attempt and was ranked as the No. 83 quarterback in FBS, according to PFF. Petras may not be able to win you games, but he certainly won’t lose them. He only had a 2.1% turnover worthy play percentage, which was top 10 in FBS.
Petras also will have to deal with the loss of his top two wide receivers Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Brandon Smith. He will, however, get his tight end Sam LaPorta back, who had the most catches on the team last season and was graded as the No. 21 tight end in the country, per PFF.
Iowa’s main success though is in the run game, and they will be one of the best rushing attacks in the Big Ten with Tyler Goodson in the backfield behind one of the best offensive lines in the Big Ten.
Tyler Goodson is currently making Nebraska players consider quitting football. pic.twitter.com/2qkEXV5o05
— Go Iowa Awesome (@IowaAwesome) November 29, 2019
Goodson ran the ball for 5.3 yards per carry last season, which led Iowa to a ranking of 29th in rushing success. Iowa’s center Tyler Linderbaum is one of the best offensive linemen in the country, and he did this to Tristan Wirfs in high school:
Iowa center @TLinderbaum vs @TristanWirfs74 in High School 👀
— PFF College (@PFF_College) June 28, 2021
Phil Parker once again has one of the best defenses in the Big Ten, which will be led by one of the best secondaries in the country. Iowa runs a “bend, but don’t break defense,” which as a fan can drive you crazy, but when you have good linebackers and an elite secondary, it can be really successful.
Last season, Iowa was the No. 1 team in the country in explosive plays allowed,
ranking inside the top five in both rushing and passing explosiveness allowed. The Hawkeyes return everyone in their secondary that earned a coverage ranking of 12th, per PFF, and Iowa was the No. 7 team in the country in terms of tackling.
So, beating this Iowa defense is incredibly difficult if your offense is reliant on explosive plays, which is sort of the case for Indiana, since it was outside the top 90 in both Rushing and Passing Success Rate.
The defensive line is where Iowa is going to have some issues. The Hawkeyes lose their top two guys Chauncey Golston and Daviyon Nixon, and the unit this season is small, averaging only 275 pounds across the line.
Iowa ranked 26th in defensive line yards last season but will likely take a step back this season. They should be able to slow down Indiana’s poor rushing attack, but the main question is, will they be able to put pressure on Penix and keep him in the pocket?
Indiana vs. Iowa Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Indiana and Iowa match up statistically:
Indiana Offense vs. Iowa Defense
Iowa Offense vs. Indiana Defense
Pace of Play / Other
Both Iowa and Indiana are very slow from a pace perspective, as they ranked outside the top 65 in seconds per play. Iowa’s offense is also not predicated on explosive plays and will run the ball at a very high rate with Petras under center.
A lot of Indiana’s success offensively last season was predicated on explosive plays, and that’s not going to happen against Iowa’s defense, so we are in store for a good, old-fashioned defensive slugfest.
Indiana vs. Iowa Betting Pick
I only have 46.01 points projected for this game, so not much value on the full game total of 45, but I do expect both offenses to come out conservatively in the first half.
Last season, both defenses were top-10 in points per game allowed in the first half (Indiana 8.5, Iowa 7.8), so I think there is some value on the first half under 22.5 points (DraftKings) at -110 and would play it down to 21.5.