Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Wisconsin Badgers Pick 11/9/19
Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2 SU, 3-5 ATS) vs. Wisconsin Badgers (6-2 SU, 5-3 ATS)
NCAA Football Week 11
Date and Time:Saturday, Nov, 9 at 4pm ET
Point Spread:IOWA +9.5/WISC -9.5 (MyBookie)
We are in the meat of the Big Ten conference season, and much will be decided in the coming weeks. Two teams on separate trends will meet in Madison this Saturday as Iowa takes its two-game win streak into Camp Randall to face a Wisconsin team riding a two-game losing skid. The Badgers look to regain the form that saw them start 6-0 with the 7th best margin of victory this season while the Hawkeyes are hoping to bring the same effort that helped them blank Northwestern in Evanston. Both teams are rested and coming off bye weeks with manageable injuries so this should be another solid tilt in a series that Wisconsin leads 47-43-2 having won each of the last three straight up and against the spread.
The Big Ten has been the land of dominant defenses this season, and these teams are part of that trend. Iowa enters as the 6th best defense in yards allowed with Wisconsin ranked 2nd, and both teams are top-5 in points allowed. The defensive ranks are virtually identical no matter where you look for each team, but Wisconsin does have an edge with the pass rush as their 31 sacks nearly double Iowa’s 16. The Badgers are slightly better at getting off the field, allowing a 22% conversion rate on third down, but the Hawkeyes are routinely solid there as well, allowing just a 33% opponent success rate. Both teams also thrive on possessing the ball more than 34 minutes on average.
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Where are they Different?
With both possessing rock-solid defenses, this one should come down to who can execute their offensive plan the best. Wisconsin leads the NCAA in predictability, and they will again feed Jonathan Taylor, who enters the week with 1,009 rushing yards and 19 total touchdowns. The UW run game ranks 25th overall and powers the Badgers to 35.6 points per game. Iowa can’t match that production, but they do have three back over 300 rushing yards each and can at least throw some fresh legs at that tough Wisconsin front. Iowa is better with the pass, averaging 246 yards per game behind Nate Stanley. He has three receivers that have at least 30 catches to provide some versatility and playmaking depth. Jack Coan is completing nearly 75% of his passes for the Badgers, but there is little consistency outside of Qunitez Cephus, who leads the team with 410 yards on 27 catches. Wisconsin has the best individual talent on the field with Taylor, but the case can be made that Iowa has a deeper pool of available playmakers and the more capable thrower. Both teams use a high third-down conversion rate on offense to grind out drives and points while keeping their defenses fresh, so this game could go in favor of the offense that nets those crucial third-down chances.
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Wisconsin opened as 5.5-point favorites as betting opened, but the line quickly moved to Iowa +8.5 by Monday night. Wisconsin was getting just 46% of the action at -8.5, but the spread continued to -9.5 where it currently sits, and the Badgers are now getting around 42% of the public action. The over/under total is lower than most NFL totals, but betting has been nearly 50-50 with the OVER seeing about 52% of bets through Tuesday. Iowa is 5-1 against the spread in the last six trips to Camp Randall, and the road team has a 9-3 ATS record in the last twelve in this series. Wisconsin has been good off the bye, going 16-5 against the spread in the last 21 following a bye but has a 3-7 ATS record in the last ten against a Big Ten opponent. Almost all trends point to the under with the low side winning each of the last five times Iowa played a conference foe, and Wisconsin has paid the under in each of the last five games overall.
The shine has come off of Wisconsin after back-to-back losses, but there is still plenty ahead of them, and I think they are due for a decent bounce-back effort at home. Wisconsin is one of the best teams in the country with extra prep time, and I believe we will see a more effective Jonathan Taylor after a couple of down games. If this one stayed in the 5-6 point range as it opened, I would probably be very strong on Wisconsin’s side, but 9.5 is just too much for a mostly one-dimensional team to cover against an Iowa team that is bringing a top-10 run defense. Iowa won’t be able to approximate what Ohio State did to Wisconsin, but they can certainly muddy the line of scrimmage the way Illinois did and start to pick away at a Badger secondary that has shown cracks when asked to play deep into games. It will be about 38 degrees at kickoff Saturday afternoon with temps falling from there, so that isn’t great news for the Iowa passing attack, but I think they get enough production to score late and cover with Wisconsin winning 24-17.
Ted’s’ Pick to Cover the Point Spread:Iowa