Arizona Wildcats vs. Iowa Hawkeyes Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Arizona Wildcats (2-0)(0-2 ATS) v. Iowa Hawkeyes (2-0)(1-0 ATS)
3:35 pm ET, September 19, 2009, Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA, ABC

by Evergreen of

Point Spread: Arizona +5.5/Iowa -5.5
Over/Under: 42

After two weeks of the NCAA Football season, many teams remain undefeated, but there will be one less after Saturday when Iowa welcomes Arizona to Iowa City for a non-conference tilt. Both teamsare up against their toughest test this weekend after facing some lesser opponents to this point. The teams are renewing a series that last had them square off in 1998 and both teams are looking to stay perfect and creep into the rankings.

Vegas opened this game with the Hawkeyes as 5 point favorites but the online sportbooks have Iowa at -5.5 or -6. Arizona is on the money line at +175 with Iowa at -205 and the over/under total for the game is in the 42 to 43 range.

Arizona has pulled out two victories to start the year, but has looked inconsistent against Central Michigan and D1-AA Northern Arizona, failing to cover in either game. The Wildcats go on the road for the first time in 2009 and they’ll look to reverse the trend that has seen them go 1-4 against the spread in the last five contests as visitors. Arizona will be gunning for a seventh straight up victory in a row after winning their final four games last year.

Iowa started out the year surviving a big scare against 1-AA Northern Iowa, eventually blocking two field goals to win 17-16. The Hawkeyes were much smoother last week as they smoked Iowa State 35-3 in Ames where they have struggled in years past. The win over the Cyclones moved Iowa to 5-0 against the spread when they are up againsta team with a winning record. Iowa has also coverd in five of the last six games in which they were the favorite.

Arizona comes in as one of the best rushing teams in the NCAA, averaging a 5th best 305 yards per game on the ground. Matt Scott runs the show and although he’s hit on 66% of his passes, he’sa better runner than thrower, adding 131 rush yards to his 352 yards through the air. Nicholas Grigsby is the bellcow in the Wildcat backfield, rushing for 325 yards and scoring three times with an 8+ yard per carry average. Scott will need to throw if Arizona wants to win Saturday, so David Douglas and Juron Carter will need to step up as neither have eclipsed 100 yards receiving to this point, but the competition to this point has dictated that as well. Defensively, the Wildcats have looked good in limiting opponents to only 87 rush yards and 11.5 points per game so far, but Iowa will be a big step up in talent.

Iowa has to be feeling better after taking out an in-state rival, especially after dominating the second half 21-0. The Hawkeyes are getting better with dealing with the loss of Jewel Hampton as the running back by committee approach is starting to take. Adam Robinson and Brandon Wegher have improved since week 1 with the duo combining for 233 yards and two scores on 42 total carries. Richard Stanzi is taking the snaps and has thrown for 439 yards and 5 touchdowns while finding a favorite target in his tight end Tony Moeaki. Iowa will be looking to use a strong defense to shutdown the Wildcat run, and while the Hawkeyes have given up 137 yards on the ground per game, they have only allowed 9.5 points on average, good for 16th in the NCAA.

Both teams are in good shape with injuries with Arizona reporting tight end Rob Gronkowski as doubtful with a back injury and wide receiver DeLashaun Dean as probable with a hamstring. Iowa is getting cornerback Shaun Prater back from suspension, but Kirk Ferentz remains suspended for Saturday.

This is a very close match on paper with the USAToday Sagarin ranking very similar with Arizona ranked 29th at 80.05 with Iowa at 80.65, good for 23rd.

Evergreens ‘s Pick: Iowa has struggled against the Pac-10, going 1-5 against the spread versus teams from out west, but Arizona is 1-4-1 ATS against the Big Ten. The Iowa defense can’t stop the ‘Zona run all together and the offenseprobably can’t put up enough points to make them abandon it early so it’s going to be close the whole way through. I like the Hawkeyes by a field goal straight up, but Arizona to cover the spread with the points.