Ball State Cardinals (1-2 SU, 1-2 ATS) +28, o/u 46.5 vs. Iowa Hawkeyes
(2-1, 1-2), Week 4 College Football, Noon Eastern Saturday, Sept. 25th,
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Big 10 Network
by Zman of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: B. State +28/University of Iowa -28
Over/Under Total: 46.5
In their final non-con games before jumping into conference play the Ball State Cardinals of the MAC visit the Iowa Hawkeyes of the Big 10 Saturday afternoon in Iowa City.
As of Tuesday morning most online sportsbooks are chalking Iowa at -28 for Saturday’s game over BSU, with an over/under of right around 46.5.
Ball State returned 19 starters this season, including the entire offense, from a team that went 2-10 last season. Which prompted Phil Steele, in his college football bible, to rank the Cardinals at No. 2 on his Most Improved Teams list for this season. BSU then opened this season with a 27-10 victory over FCS Southeast Missouri State, although they couldn’t cover the spread as 25-point favorites.
The Cardinals then laid an egg, losing 27-23 outright to FCS Liberty as 10.5-point favorites. Ball State got outgained that day 395-338, and needed an INT return TD to stay close.
Last week BSU went to West Lafayette and lost to Purdue 24-13. But they did manage to score a late TD to produce a back-door cover as 16.5-point underdogs.
Phil Steele picked Iowa, with 14 returning starters from an 11-2 team of last season, including eight on defense, to finish second in the Big 10 this season. And the Hawkeyes started well, beating Eastern Illinois 37-7, although they could not cover at -39, and topping Iowa State 35-7, covering there as 12-point chalk.
But the Hawkeyes ran into a buzz-saw last Saturday night, losing out in Arizona 34-27. Iowa, 2.5-point underdogs at kickoff, fell behind 14-0 in the first five minutes of the game, thanks to a blocked punt and an 85-yard INT return for a TD. Herky battled back, though, with help from an INT TD return of its own, to tie the score at 27 midway through the fourth quarter. But the Wildcats put together a late game-winning drive to hand Iowa the loss.
After running for 454 yards in their first two games, Hawkeye rushers got held to 35 yards on 17 carries at Arizona.
In the process Iowa fell from No. 9 in the AP poll to No. 18.
So far this season Ball State quarterbacks Kelly Page, a sophomore, and Keith Wenning, a freshman, have completed 60% of their passes for a 5.6 YPA average, with two TD passes and three INTs.
On the other side of this quarterback match-up, Iowa senior Ricky Stanzi has hit on 64% of his throws this season for a healthy 9.6 YPA, with six TDs and just one INT.
These two teams met for the only time ever in the season opener five years ago, when Iowa blanked the Cardinals 56-0.
Bettors may want to check the personnel reports before wagering on this game. Ball State lost one starter on the O line to a knee injury last week, and another one just got arrested for battery
Sagarin’s PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rate the Hawkeyes, with the three-point home-field advantage, as 27-point favorites over Ball State.
So far this season teams ranked in the AP’s top 25 poll are 53-4 straight up vs. unranked teams, and 25-21-3 ATS. The totals of those two numbers don’t add up to equal each other because several earlier games in this situation were unlined.
Also, the Big 10 is 5-0 SU and 3-2 ATS vs. the MAC so far this year.
Zman’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: This is the classic situation where 28 points may be too much to give, fearful of the back-door cover. And Ball State may give a good showing for a while. But they also might not score 10 points. We’re not high on this one, but we’ll give the points and take the Hawkeyes.