No. 14 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-0 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. No. 25 Wisconsin Badgers (5-1 SU, 3-3 ATS), Saturday, October 17th, 12 p.m. Eastern, Camp Randall Stadium, Madison, WI
By Oracle of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Iowa -1/Wisconsin +1
Through the first five weeks the Wisconsin Badgers went undefeated and still couldn’t quite crack the Top 25 polls.
So what was the ingredient that put them into the rankings this time around? Well.a loss, of course.
In a weird twist, the No. 25 Badgers actually moved up the polls after a 31-13 loss to Ohio State last weekend. The defeat was their first on the year, while their opponent for Saturday’s 12 p.m. Eastern contest at Camp Randall Stadium – the Iowa Hawkeyes – are currently undefeated and ranked No. 14 in the nation.
What may be even a more bizarre twist to this contest is the betting line.
The line opened up with the home Badgers not surprisingly a very slim dog +1. That line has already moved four points in just the first couple of days at many online sportsbooks. Right now, Wisconsin is the favorite almost anywhere bettors look, sometimes even at -3.
Both teams are pretty average so far when it comes to covering the spread. From the small platter bettors have to look at this far into the season, Wisconsin is 3-3 while Iowa is 3-2 ATS.
Currently at this time of publication, the over/under is not available. We expect to post it here at the top of this article some time on Thursday afternoon.
The 6-0 start for Iowa is their best since 1985. Their balanced offense isn’t flashy, but that shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows anything about Iowa and the Big Ten in general.
Quarterback Richard Stanzi has thrown for over 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns. They need for him to be consistent and make the big throws when necessary, which he has done more often than not this season.
Although he threw a pick 6 on his first throw of the game last Saturday, he led his team to a big 30-28 win against Michigan by throwing for 283 yards and two scores. Senior tight end Tony Moeaki was his favorite target, as he caught 6 balls for 105 yards and two scores.
The ground game for Iowa is something to be desired, though. They gained just 96 yards and averaged 2.8 yards per carry against Michigan. They’ll need the balanced attack to keep Wisconsin in its toes this weekend.
Head coach Kirk Ferentz relies on his defense to keep them in games. Iowa gives up just 15.8 points per contest, which is 20th in the nation. They’re also 22nd in the country by giving up 177 yards in the air a game.
They’ll have their hands full with what could be considered a surprising Wisconsin offense. The Badgers are known for producing big, bruising running backs and first round draftable offensive linemen.
This year, quarterback Scott Tolzien has changed the look of the Badgers offense. He has completed 64% of his passes for nearly 1,300 yards while throwing for nine touchdowns. He did have two interceptions returned for a touchdown last week against the Buckeyes, though.
The matchup between Tolzien and Iowa’s secondary will be key. If he can start gashing the defensive backfield, that may open up some running lanes for John Clay, who has seven touchdowns on the year to go along with 641 yards. Clay has had some fumble issues this season, but he’ll see most of the carries with backup Zach Brown questionable with a concussion.
These two squads met last year in Iowa where the Badgers fell big, 38-16. A lot has changed since last year’s matchup, though.
First off, Shonn Greene ran wild against Bucky, gaining 217 yards and four touchdowns. He was a first round pick for the Jets this season, so the Badgers won’t have to face him. On the Wisconsin side, Tolzien didn’t start in this game.
Without that power running game this season, more responsibility is going to go on Stanzi’s shoulders, or, technically, his arm. The Badgers pass defense is a bit susceptible, as they give up over 210 yards through the air per game.
Minus last season, these two squads normally play some pretty tight ball games. The average margin of victory in the three games prior was not even six points.
As for the spread, Iowa has absolutely dominated with a 6-1 mark in the last seven head-to-head meetings.
The over/under is pretty unpredictable when these guys get together, as it’s an even 4-4 in the last eight games.
The Hawkeyes have done well covering on the road as of late, going 4-0 ATS. They’re also 6- 1 ATS as road underdogs.
The Badgers have some betting trends to counter that. They’re an impressive 5-0 when favored by 3.5 points or less and 4-1 ATS when at home.
The Badgers’ surprising lethal offensive attack has made the over trend huge for them. The over is 6-1 in the last seven as home favorites. But when these two teams get together, a lot of unpredictable scoring happens – or doesn’t happen – so it might be your best bet to stay away from it. If the over/under is anywhere in the low to mid 50’s, though, the under would be a pretty good play.
Overall, these two teams are out to prove their rankings are for real. The Hawkeyes may be the quietest undefeated team in the nation. Meanwhile, Wisconsin wants to keep building as they’ve moved up in the rankings each week this season.
Oracle’s Pick: It’s a little surprising Wisconsin is favored, even if they are at home. This may be a sucker spread for bettors who think this game belongs to Iowa. The Badgers have played well this year and look for them to win this game by a touchdown. Take the Badgers!