Northern Iowa vs Iowa State Odds & Picks: Bet the Panthers to Cover In-State Rivalry
John E. Moore III/Getty Images. Pictured: Iowa State’s Jaylin Noel.
Northern Iowa vs Iowa State Odds
What better way to begin the college football season than by wagering on the team that made national headlines by, well, gambling?
We have waited all this time; it's only right we wager something on the Iowa State opener. Besides, there's a chance we even side with the Cyclones!
But let's get to it. Matt Campbell's squad is looking to bounce back after a pretty gross 2022 season. Iowa State struggled all season long on offense and will now enter the 2023 opener with a brand new quarterback and running back following the gambling investigation.
Here's everything you need to know about Northern Iowa vs Iowa State odds and picks in this college football betting preview for Saturday, Sept. 2.
There's a reason why the line is north of 20 points: Iowa State should win this ballgame 10 out of 10 times. And I'm expecting it to do just that on Saturday.
However, I'm of the belief that Northern Iowa provides a bit of an interesting test for the Cyclones this weekend.
Northern Iowa has a fun offense that really emerged late in the season in 2022. In four of its final five contests, Northern Iowa scored over 35 points, with the Panthers clearing the 40-point plateau in three of the ballgames.
Quarterback Theo Day returns to the offense after tossing 26 touchdowns and over 3,100 yards with just six interceptions. Day threw for 380 yards and five touchdowns in the Panthers' final ballgame of the season in which they scored 58 points as well.
On the receiver front, three of the top four wideouts from a year ago return. While it's a lot asking for the Panthers to remain competitive throughout the entirety of the ballgame against Iowa State, it's more than expected that Northern Iowa finds the end zone at least a couple of times, and that's really all I'm banking on here.
I will get to the Cyclones' offensive struggles here in a bit, but again, with a line at 20.5, I feel very comfortable taking the Panthers spread knowing Iowa State's offense will be tasked with scoring 35+ if UNI finds the end zone just twice.
All right, let's get to it — and no sugarcoating this one. Iowa State had an abysmal offense in 2022. For my money, Iowa State is the Big Ten's deserted child that got left on the fire department steps with their style of play.
In 2022, Iowa State ranked outside of the top 100 in scoring offense with a lousy 20.2 points per game. Add in the fact the Cyclones will be without starting quarterback Hunter Dekkers and running back Jirehl Brock due to the aforementioned gambling investigation, and there's a lot of uncertainty in the offensive backfield.
The timing of the gambling probe did not do the Cyclones any favors. Dekkers went through an entire spring and all of summer with the team prior to the storyline becoming national news. While it's not yet known what kind of talent the Cyclones will have to replace Dekkers, we do know is the Cyclones' new gunslinger will be young.
On the official Iowa State depth chart, Matt Campbell listed both redshirt freshman Rocco Becht and true freshman JJ Kohl at the starting quarterback position. The Cyclones will deploy both quarterbacks in the opener, meaning it's likely the rhythm of play for the offense is disrupted multiple times.
And even if the Cyclones find their guy at the QB spot, the offense is still a question mark. ISU's leading receiver from 2022, Xavier Hutchinson, is now in the NFL. Hutchinson had 47 more receptions and double the yards of the next closest on the roster last fall.
UNI and ISU have played twice since 2019, with the Cyclones winning both games by a combined nine points, including one contest that entered triple overtime. A blowout is unlikely, and a 21-point cover is something I have a hard time seeing, especially if Northern Iowa finds the end zone twice at any point Saturday.
Northern Iowa vs Iowa State
Betting Pick & Prediction
The pick comes down to fading the Iowa State offense.
Yes, Campbell has historically had very solid defenses in Ames. But with the departures for the offense and the ongoing battle of freshmen quarterbacks, the Panthers will be smelling blood in the water this weekend.
The line for the game should pop up sometime early Saturday morning, and I would feel comfortable taking anything over 20 points in favor of Northern Iowa. Again, all it takes is 13 or 14 points for UNI for me to feel quite safe with this bet.
Let's start the season off right.