Wisconsin Badgers (4-2 SU, 5-1 ATS) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS)
College Football Week 8
Date/Time: Saturday, October 22 at 12pm ET
Where: Kinnick Stadium
by Evergreen, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: WISC -3/IOWA +3
Over/Under Total: 42.5
The Big Ten is one of the best conferences in College Football this season and that has the week-to-week schedule full of important matchups. Two squads that are looking to win the Big Ten West division square off this weekend as the Wisconsin Badgers head to Iowa to take on the Hawkeyes. Both teams are sporting a couple of losses but have plenty left to play for, including a potential trip to Indianapolis. The Badgers are reeling after a couple of losses to Michigan and Ohio State but they have retained the respect of the pollsters and enter the week as the 10th ranked team in the land. This is a heated rivalry that doesnít get the attention it probably deserves and the no-love-lost theme usually leads to a pretty intense game.
Wisconsin may be the best two loss team in the nation and because their losses were in close fashion to good teams, they are the three point favorite despite being the visitor. The road team has fared very well in this series, winning five in a row straight-up and four of the last five against the spread. The Badgers are riding a 7-1 ATS streak including going 5-0 against teams that are over .500 but they have just three ATS wins in the last twelve against Iowa. The dog is 4-1 against the spread in the last five meetings and that looks good for the Hawkeyes but Iowa has just one ATS win in their last ten games at Kinnick Stadium. The new Sagarin predictor likes this game as a 19-16 win for Wisconsin.
If it turns out that Michigan and Ohio State are both as good as they have looked so far, then Wisconsin should have nothing to feel bad about regarding their last two games. Bucky went to Ann Arbor and lost a 14-7 decision to the Wolverines and lost in overtime last week to the visiting Buckeyes. The offense has been absent at times with a redshirt freshman at quarterback but the Wisconsin defense is all kinds of legit and they give Bucky a chance to win against anyone. That defense ranks 12th in total yards allowed, 9th in points allowed at 15.2 per game and 13th in rush defense which will be the key matchup against Iowa. The Badgers do need to score if they want to avoid something like the 10-6 loss they suffered to Iowa last year and it will again fall on Alex Hornibook to make plays. The young QB is poised but he has come up just short in the last two when he could have turned the tide of the game. Protecting the ball will be a focus as Hornibrook has more interceptions than touchdowns at this point.
Iowa has been a Jekyll and Hyde team this season in going 5-2. The North Dakota State loss was an uncharacteristic effort and the 14-7 win against a flailing Rutgers team isnít impressive but they have handled their business against Minnesota and Purdue to make them a factor in the division. C.J. Beathard has played well in the early going with an 11-to-4 TD/INT ratio but the Iowa offense has underwhelmed in general, ranking outside the top-100 in passing and total yards. They do have a nice running game and have been efficient enough with the limited yardage to score 30.9 points per game but Wisconsin is bringing a different class of defense to this game. Akrum Wadley will be the toughest matchup for the Badgers to defend. Wadley is averaging 7.4 yards per carry with eight touchdowns via the rush but also has over 100 receiving yards and represents one of the best playmakers on the field this weekend. Riley McCarron has stepped up to be the top receiver for Iowa with three touchdown grabs since Matt Vandeberg was lost during the Rutgers game with a foot injury.
No one is expecting an offensive clinic when these two meet. Both are top-25 in terms of points allowed on defense and there is an overall absence of homerun hitters on either side. Corey Clement had a nice game against Ohio State including a couple of big runs but the Wisconsin running game has lacked that big play ability. Wide receiver Jazz Peavy has been racking up carries to spark that ground game and now has ten carries for 124 yards after a big game last weekend. Wisconsin will need to find those clever means to be consistent or risk battling the entire game against an Iowa team that isnít afraid to muddy it up and win the ugly game. The same can easily be said going the other way and LeShun Daniels Jr. alongside Wadley need to find success against a stout Badger front seven or it will be Iowa on the wrong side of field position and eventually the final score.
Three yards and a cloud of dust is still looked at fondly by many Big Ten fans and they will get a treat watching this one. These teams are mirror images of each other and have played many strength-on-strength matchups over the years. Iím giving the edge to Wisconsin this weekend as they are taking a significant step down in competition while Iowa is facing its toughest foe of the year. There is enough offense on the Badgerís side to couple with their defense and get a win and eat the modest three points. Wisconsin held Beathard to 77 yards on 9-of-21 passing last year and Iowa needed four turnovers to win a 10-6 snoozefest. Corey Clement did not play in that game and his presence this weekend is big considering Iowa is giving up 151 rushing yards per game. The Badgers will see the success on offense that they havenít during the last two weeks and win a close but controlled game 26-16.
Evergreenís Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Wisconsin
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