Western Michigan vs Iowa Odds, Prediction: Hawkeyes to Win Big?
Matthew Holst/Getty Images. Pictured: Iowa quarterback Cade McNamara.
Western Michigan vs Iowa Odds
Want to know why college football is the best? Because we get to bet on Iowa games.
This Western Michigan vs. Iowa matchup features a four-touchdown spread with a total under 43.
The sharp rule of thumb is to bet heavy underdogs with low totals, but I’m throwing caution to the wind. My Western Michigan vs. Iowa prediction and pick is that the Hawkeyes will roll in their final nonconference game.
The good news in Kalamazoo: Western Michigan boasts a highly experienced offensive line.
The bad news: everything else.
The Broncos are rebuilding under new head coach Lance Taylor, who was last seen as Louisville’s offensive coordinator. He’s working with turnover across the roster.
It starts under center with one of the worst quarterback rooms in the country. The three-headed “monster” of Jack Salopek, Treyson Bourguet and Hayden Wolff have combined for 5.3 YPA, one touchdown and a pick through three games.
The Broncos also lost their top two running backs (La’Darius Jefferson and Sean Tyler) and their top wideout (Corey Crooms) from last year's squad.
This unit played Syracuse last week and finished with a 22% Success Rate, including a 0% Success Rate on Standard Downs. They scored seven points on three drives past the Orange 40-yard line.
How do you think the Broncos will fare against Iowa? The Hawkeyes’ defense is almost 10 points better than Syracuse’s by SP+.
My guess is not great.
Meanwhile, the Broncos returned two defensive starters from last year’s squad, losing three starting defensive linemen, three starting senior linebackers and three productive secondary starters.
A litany of inexperience exists across the front seven, and depth is an even larger concern.
I am concerned about Iowa’s defense this year after losing its top two tacklers from 2022 and two NFL first-round draft picks in Lukas Van Ness and Jack Campbell.
But we know the Ferentz family.
The Hawkeyes have ranked sixth or better in Defensive SP+ for six consecutive seasons and currently rank first after two weeks this year. The defense and special teams will always be elite in Iowa City.
And the cupboard is far from empty this year. The secondary is filled with talent (Sebastian Castro, Cooper DeJean, Quinn Schulte) while two studs lead the defensive line (Logan Lee and Joe Evans).
As always, the biggest questions about Iowa remain on the offensive side of the ball.
But quarterback Cade McNamara gives the Hawkeyes a higher ceiling than ever. He’s a rock-solid signal caller, and his 2021 season with Michigan is a tad underrated, given he finished with 17 Big Time Throws despite only 15 touchdowns.
He has an 11.5-yard average Depth of Target through two games, which has me dreaming of “Explosive Iowa” despite his 56.9% completion. For what it’s worth, Iowa ranks ninth nationally in Explosiveness after wins over Utah State and Iowa State.
Luckily for McNamara, Iowa’s offensive line is highly experienced; all five of last year’s starters return.
The offensive line should create holes for the top two returning running backs, Kaleb Johnson and Leshon Williams. Johnson created 3.3 YAC on 51 missed tackles last season, and he’s put together 91 yards and a touchdown through two starts.
Keep an eye on Jaziun Patterson, Iowa’s best back last week. He racked up 86 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries, picking up 69 YAC on three missed tackles.
I hope to see more from Michigan tight end transfer Erick All in future weeks. I also hope top wideout Luke Lachey will keep his yards per reception over 13 for the remainder of the season (13.1 this year, 14.3 last year).
I admit I didn’t love what I saw from Iowa last week in Ames. Iowa State generated 18 first downs to Iowa’s nine and outgained the Hawkeyes 290 yards to 235. The Cyclones also finished with a higher Success Rate (39% to 33%).
But Iowa generated a positive EPA per play (0.07) while holding Iowa State to a negative mark (-0.07), and it led 17-0 in the first half (after a typical Iowa pick-six) before allowing 10 fourth-quarter points.
As always, Iowa’s defense made a crucial fourth-down stop in the fourth quarter to secure a low-scoring win.
That’s what we’ve come to expect.
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Western Michigan and Iowa match up statistically:
Western Michigan Offense vs. Iowa Defense
Iowa Offense vs. Western Michigan Defense
Pace of Play / Other
|Special Teams SP+||115||18|
|Seconds per Play||25.0 (36)||29.4 (103)|
|Rush Rate||56.0% (25)||54.2% (50)|
Western Michigan vs Iowa
Betting Pick & Prediction
I genuinely think Western Michigan gets shut out here. I don't see how it scores.
In last year’s final non-conference game, the Hawkeyes shut out Nevada while allowing only 151 yards at fewer than three YPP. Iowa won 27-0 as 23-point favorites.
I expect a similar result here.
However, I think McNamara and the Hawkeyes' offense can take advantage of Western Michigan’s defense more than they could Nevada’s last season. Iowa's ceiling is higher, and the opponent’s defense is much worse.
Syracuse dropped 48 points with an absurd 83% Success Rate against the Broncos last week. Western Michigan can’t stop anybody, including this anemic Iowa attack.
And sometimes, handicapping these non-conference Power Five vs. Group of Five battles comes down to motivation. Does the heavy favorite feel the need to run up the score?
In this case, the answer is a resounding yes.
You may remember that Brian Ferentz needs his squad to average 25 PPG to cash his $112,500 contract incentive bonus. This is one of his only chances to rack up a massive point total against a wildly inept defense, an enticing option given Big Ten play starts next week.
For what it’s worth, head coach Kirk Ferentz is 2-0 ATS as a four-touchdown-or-more favorite against FBS foes.
I’m betting he moves to 3-0 in a 35-point shutout victory.
What is QuickSlip?
QuickSlip is an Action Network feature that allows users to automatically pre-load their bet slip at FanDuel Sportsbook.