Wisconsin vs Iowa Odds, Picks | Big Ten Betting Guide
Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images. Pictured: Kirk Ferentz (Iowa)
Wisconsin vs Iowa Odds
There's certain games every year that you can go ahead and assume will feature a high-level of physicality.
Iowa against Wisconsin is one of them.
Both of these teams got off to an uncharacteristically poor start to the year, which on the Wisconsin side led to a coaching change.
Despite those tough starts, both teams have appeared to right the ship in recent weeks. Wisconsin has won three of its last four, and interim head coach Jim Leonhard is auditioning for the full-time job.
Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes have won two in a row and are starting to show a little bit of life on offense.
This game currently sits right around a pick'em and will likely be decided in the fourth quarter, as most of these matchups between the two typically do.
Leonhard has kept his alma mater fighting since taking over as interim head coach. The Badgers are once again stout on defense and once again struggle to consistently move the ball with Graham Mertz running the offense.
Despite the 23-10 win over Maryland last week, Mertz completed just five of his 18 passes for 77 yards.
Star running back Braelon Allen is the one bright spot for this offense and the sophomore is just 11 yards away from eclipsing 1,000 yards for the season.
The problem for the Badgers' offense in this game is that the Iowa defense has taken away the run all season. I don't expect Wisconsin to be able to just hand the ball to Allen and get large chunks on the ground.
As a result, Mertz will be forced to make plays with his arm, and he's proven throughout his career to be a mixed bag at best when that happens.
The Badgers aren't quite as good defensively as they were last season, but this is still a really solid unit.
For Wisconsin to win Saturday, it will need to get pressure on Spencer Petras and create some takeaways. The secondary has been vulnerable at times, but Iowa is not the type of offense that will take a ton of shots down the field.
The more things change, the more they stay the same for Iowa football. Kirk Ferentz once again has a football team that is extremely sound on defense, but very limited on the other side of the ball.
Offensively here are a few of the numbers in terms of where Iowa checks in nationally:
- Rush Success: 115
- Line Yards: 125
- Pass Success: 116
It hasn't been pretty.
On a positive note, however, the last two games have been the two best performances of the season for this unit.
Iowa went for 376 yards of total offense last week in a 24-3 win over Purdue, and Petras was able to connect with his big tight ends for some chunk plays down the field.
Before that, Iowa put up 33 against Northwestern and didn't turn the ball over once. I'm not saying this unit is all of a sudden dynamic, but I think there's reason to believe it can be better the rest of the way.
On the other side of the ball in this matchup, I think Iowa's defense should be able to absolutely feast against the Badgers.
Iowa's secondary is full of studs including Riley Moss, and the Hawkeyes come in ranked seventh nationally in Defensive Pass Success. When Mertz is forced to drop back and throw it in this game, there's a good chance the ball is finding a black and yellow jersey at least a couple of times.
Look for the Hawks to take away Allen and then swarm Mertz in passing situations. I don't see a path where Wisconsin can move the ball in this game.
Wisconsin vs Iowa Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Wisconsin and Iowa match up statistically:
Wisconsin Offense vs. Iowa Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)
Iowa Offense vs. Wisconsin Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams
|Seconds per Play
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Wisconsin vs Iowa Betting Pick
Wisconsin has won eight of the last 10 matchups between these two, despite many of those games coming down to the final possession.
I'm rolling with the Hawkeyes to flip the trend in this series and find a way to get it done at home.
Iowa's defense is still playing at an elite level and as a result, I think Wisconsin will really struggle to move the ball throughout.
Additionally, in a lower-scoring game like this, special teams becomes very important. Iowa has a significant edge in the third phase of the game.
It's always difficult putting money on Petras, but I think Brian Ferentz has found something in recent weeks. The Hawkeyes' offense will be able to do enough to manufacture a couple of scoring drives.
It won't be pretty, but Iowa finds a way to win this game.