No. 12 Missouri Tigers (10-2 SU, 7-5 ATS) vs. Iowa Hawkeyes (7-5 SU,
5-6-1 ATS), Insight Bowl, 10: p.m. EST, Tuesday, December 28, 2010,
Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe, Arizona, TV: ESPN
by Badger of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: MO -3/IA +3
Over/Under Total: 46.5
The Iowa Hawkeyes will try and stop their free fall into mediocrity
when they take on the 12th-ranked Missouri Tigers in the Insight Bowl in Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe on Tuesday.
Never mind that the Hawkeyes lost their final three games of the Big
Ten Conference season, including embarrassing ones on the road at
Northwestern (21-17) and Minnesota (27-24), but the program has been
rocked in December with news of off the field troubles involving
arrests, suspensions and player transfers.
Meanwhile, the Tigers have sort of become the forgotten team in the
Insight Bowl matchup, despite having the countrys quietest 10-2
season finishing in the 12th spot of the final BCS standings. With
all of the focus on Iowa and their troubles, Missouri has flown under
the radar and could be poised for a Tiger- Big 12 Conference coming
out party in Arizona Tuesday.
If the slight in media attention towards Missouri isnt enough
motivation for Gary Pinkel and the Tigers players, maybe their slight
by the oddsmakers and bettors will. The game opened back in early
December with the 10-win Tigers as just a 1-point favorite in the
game. Then turmoil struck the Iowa program, but after all of the dust
settled the point spread only moved a little to Missouri minus -3-
points at most online sports gambling sites.
When the other team announces their top runner (Adam Robinson) and
receiver (Derrell Johnson-Koulianos) are suspended and gone from the
team, youd expect the betting line to move a little more than a
point or two, which is why this game could be a trap game when its
all said and done.
The over/under total opened at 46.5 and has yet to move in either direction, although there are a few sportsbooks that do list the
total at 47 on their boards (Caesars Palace).
With the player turnover on offense at Iowa its hard to handicap his
game, but what we do know is that senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi is
still behind center for the Hawkeyes. Stanzi threw for over 2,800
yards and had an excellent 25-to-4 touchdown to interception rate in
2010, so the Hawkeyes offense is still a very capable unit but maybe
not as strong as their 29.1 points per game average with everyone on
Without much of a threat at running the ball, and the lack of the
play-action game building off the run game, Stanzi will be called
upon to carry the offense. How well he can adjust to the added
workload will be huge if the Hawkeyes hope to stay with the Tigers.
Missouris offense is led by quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who seemed
to get better as the season went along, but had an absolute stinker
of a game in the finale versus in-state rival Kansas throwing two
picks in the 35-7 route. As a whole the Tigers are a solid unit
(403.1 ypg, 30.3 ppg), but those numbers came against a watered-down
Big 12 this season and could be a little deceiving to the naked eye.
Gabbert will also be called upon by his offense to carry a bigger
load in this game, because the Tigers will have a very hard time
running the ball against the Iowa front seven on defense. Iowas run
defense finished 5th in the country allowing just 98.9 yards per
game, and their 16.4 points per game allowed ended up 7th in the
NCAA, so the Tigers should expect some tough sledding.
Missouris defense is not as well known as Iowas, but it is just as
strong. The Tigers gave up their fair share of yards at times (346.9
ypg), especially on the ground (143.2 ypg), but when the field gets
short they are very capable of shutting teams down. The Tigers led
the nation in red zone defense (opponents score only 55% of the
time) and they actually finished ahead of Iowa in scoring defense
with just a 15.2 points per game average.
The Missouri-Iowa matchup has taken 100 years to renew too, since the
last time these two schools met on the field was all the way back in
1910 (a 5-0 Missouri win yes, 5-0). All told the Tigers are 45-55-4
against teams from the Big 10, and they are 1-2 versus the Big 10 in
Missouri is 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against a Big 10 team, but just 5-12 ATS against a team with a winning record and 0-4 ATS in
their last four games in December.
Iowa is a solid 5-1 ATS in their last six bowl games, 4-0 ATS in
neutral site games, and 4-0 ATS in bowl games as the listed underdog.
The under also has some strong betting trends with it, including an
8-1 mark in Missouris last nine non-conference games and a 5-2 mark
in their neutral site games. The under is also 7-0 in Iowas last
seven games versus a Big 12 foe, 4-0 in neutral site games and 15-4-2
in their last 21 non-conference contests.
Badgers Pick to Cover the Spread: Too many unknowns for Iowa since the suspensions and
player defections for me to recommend a play on the Hawkeyes here,
even though I think they somehow find a way to win. Im playing it
safe and taking the under in a game controlled by defense. Take the
under of 46.5.