Hello and welcome back to all my “friends,” “family” and “readers” of “The Pants.”
I come to you with good and bad news. The bad news (for you and a lesser extent, myself) is I’m still employed by BHGP and SB Nation dot com. The good news (for me and only me) is they’re still allowing me to write about wagering on a bloodsport played by teenagers, so if you’re not familiar with what goes on in TAKE MY MONEY, you’d be best off wiping your browser and throwing your tablet outside uncle Jed’s trailer home now.
The college football season is under a month away, and while we’re still your one-stop-shop for all things Hawkeye football-related in this hype period, it’s important not to forget we gently encourage and even reward somewhat nefarious activities every now and then.
But enough about North Carolina.
ANYWAY, some pretty SPICY college football gambling odds have been released over the past few months and our beloved Iowa Hawkeyes have been mentioned every now and then by said oddsmakers.
Let’s take a look at what kind of preseason odds Iowa is getting, how we’re going to get rich betting those odds, and then get into some bold gambling predictions because being a bookmaker is easy and I’m submitting this column as an application to the Action Sports Network as soon as my current employer finds out I’ve been blogging on company time.
All odds have been pulled from Bovada, Vegas Insider or Bet DSI unless otherwise noted. (Otherwise noted is a sugar-coated way of saying “these are the odds some guy living above a pool hall Chicago gave me”).
So without further ado:
Over/under regular-season wins for Iowa Hawkeyes in 2018: 7.5
Most places are giving Iowa “even” odds for winning 8 or more games in 2018, while picking the under results in worse odds (-120 at most places), meaning the inclination in the desert is Iowa will win seven or fewer games this year.
To fully breakdown this wager, let’s take a look again at Iowa’s schedule:
A winning ticket in the above odds means Iowa could go 8-4 and you will still cash in your winnings.
Now reader, I ask you humbly: do you see five losses on that schedule? Do you see four losses? Do you even see three or tw…
*looks in both directions*
*whistles to indicate coast is clear*
*watches as a mass of degenerates and Iowa fans flood the alley between DCs and Fieldhouse*
*shouts to surly mob*
TWO LOSSES ON THAT SCHEDULE?!?
I’m not saying Iowa is going 10-2 next year, but they’re going 10-2 next year and you better hammer that over otherwise we aren’t friends anymore.
I’m normally in the camp that the oddsmakers are the smartest people around when it comes to these sort of these things (that’s why they’re called sharps) but I feel like they’re seriously missing the mark on this Iowa over/under.
This isn’t because I’m a very smart football blogger who drinks his coffee black, takes his Southwest membership status gold, and bought an Iowa State shower mat just so he can pee on it in the mornings, but because Iowa’s schedule is pretty dang soft.
Almost 10 ply, even.
Barring significant injury to multiple positions this year, I think anything short of 8 wins would be a downright disaster. Eight regular-season wins would be disappointing. Nine would be good to very good. Ten or more is the ceiling and I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that.
So let’s take advantage of the stupidity of the very smart, very rich men who wear Italian suits and have an address in the Maldives as their legal residence for tax purposes and hammer the over here.
Odds on Iowa to win Big Ten Championship: 25:1
The odds on Iowa winning the Big Ten (this means winning the CCG in Indy) is just about the same everywhere. Placing one dollar on Iowa to win the B1G would net you $25 in US currency, which is a pretty solid return, especially if you find your big boy pants and lay down more than a single greenback on the Hawks.
Here are the odds each team is getting to win the B1G (last updated Aug. 6):
Ohio State (+225)
Michigan (+300) (lol)
Penn State (+750)
Michigan State (+800)
Nebraska, Northwestern, Purdue (+3300)
Indiana, Maryland (+10,000)
Illinois, Rutgers (+15,000)
My takeaway from the above is people are a little high on Ohio State (which is fair given their history and does not take into account what’s going on with Urban Meyer right now) very high on Wisconsin (which I think is accurate and founded and probably a good bet) while too many are drinking the 2% kool-aid which is Michigan under Harbaugh.
Penn State is a little high IMO due to the departure of Saquon Barkley and the best coach on campus in former offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead, who is now the head coach at Mississippi State.
Michigan State is a little low because they were sneaky good last year and return a lot.
And then there’s Iowa. A team that really needs to only beat Wisconsin and not royally fuck up the rest of the season in order to just punch a ticket to Indy.
Keeping players from being suspended would probably help too.
I realize not royally fucking up is easier said than done when it comes to Iowa football. But I just feel like the stars are aligned here.
I think Iowa has a really great chance of making it to Indy this year. And once the Hawkeyes are on that field, they’ll play anyone close. I’m not saying we’re winning the B1G this year, but our odds definitely feel better than 25:1.
Odds on Iowa to win National Championship: 250:1
So Iowa is about ten times less likely to add a crystal football to its trophy cabinet this year than a conference championship trophy according to sharps.
Given everything we know about Iowa football, being +25,000 to win the damn thing seems pretty accurate actually. I don’t even want to dissect this number because it’s late at night and the thought of Iowa winning a natty is waging a vicious battle with the growler of Nyquil I just drank.
Iowa doesn’t have anyone receiving pre-season Heisman hype (I’d argue Anthony Nelson should move to tight end and play both sides of the ball to make him a lock for the award, but that’s neither here nor there).
The only Iowa player with a real shot of winning the golden doorstop is probably Nate Stanley, and he’d have to put on an absolute clinic for 13 consecutive games in order to win it.
It’s not outside the realm of possibility, but I don’t see it happening.
So right now, your only option on most sportsbooks is to bet “the field” which is to say, you aren’t betting on any of the 30-or-so favorites picked to win the Heisman.
Wagering on the field gives you odds close to the 150:1 range, and that sounds about right.
Conference favorites to win the Heisman include Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, JK Dobbins and Nick Bosa, Penn State’s Trace McSorely, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor, Michigan’s Shae Patterson and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke.
Is Nate Stanley better than some of those guys? Perhaps. But with the Heisman, it comes down to win columns and box scores more than anything.
Winning the Heisman is a team problem, not a Nate Stanley one.
And that’s kind of it for “real” preseason odds in regards to Iowa. There’s few household names on the roster, so no one is getting individual stats treatment on sportsbook wagers as of now.
But that’s no fun. So below I made up some over/unders in regards to some of our players. I think I did a pretty good job.
Nate Stanley O/U:
Completion Percentage: 60% (55.8 in 2017)
Passing touchdowns: 22.5 (26)
Interceptions: 8.5 (6)
I’m higher on Stanley than most, but I’m not unrealistic. I think we see a better version of Stanley in 2018 compared to his breakout season, but it will be really tough to duplicate some of the numbers he put up. Think of it as the reverse Stanzi.
For the record, I’d take the over in each of the above categories.
Noah Fant O/U:
Receiving Yards: 650 (494)
Receptions: 40 (30)
Receiving Touchdowns: 8.5 (11)
By just about every account, Noah Fant is the No. 1 tight end in college football this year. He’s going to receive the kind of attention defenses almost never assign to his position. Will he overcome that adversity?
Give me the under in yards and touchdowns but the over in receptions.
Anthony Nelson O/U:
Sacks: 10 (7.5)
At first I had 9 sacks as the line here, but that seemed too easy. It’s pretty uncommon for a single player to have 10 or more sacks in a year at Iowa (it’s happened just once in the last 10 years – Adrian Clayborn had 11.5 sacks in 2009) but Anthony Nelson is a generational talent and he will be leaned on heavily as our new linebacking corps breaks itself in.
And just think about him and AJE on the field at the same time this year.
Anyway, I think Anthony Nelson is a problem few offensive lines will have an answer for. Still, I think he ends the year with 9.5 sacks.
Total team rushing: O/U 2,000 yards
2,000 yards team rushing is usually the difference between a good year and a great one for Iowa football. The Hawkeyes had just 1,800 yards last year, over 2,000 in ’16 and 2,500 in ’15. (The Hawkeyes had under 1,500 rushing yards in 2009 but that’s an outlier.)
ANYWAY, how will an (more or less) entirely new backfield fare this year?
I love the over.
Non-TE receiving touchdowns: O/U 8.5
Last year, Iowa’s receivers hauled in just 8 touchdowns. And that was with Matt VandeBerg.
We can include running backs here, but, unfortunately, I still like the under.
Iowa tight ends with a receiving touchdown: O/U 2.5
Our very own BoilerHawk posed this question in Slack Heart Gold Pants, and it’s an interesting thought.
TJ Hockenson and Noah Fant are each mortal locks to score a touchdown next year. But will Shaun Beyer get his number called? Is the Drew Cook experiment going to reveal itself? WHERE IS NATE WIETING?
If you believe the offense is now under lock and key via Brian Ferentz, then you better believe the over is going to hit.
Other wagers worth consideration:
Fourth down conversion percentage: O/U 66%
Iowa was 14-22 in this category last year going about 63 percent. With Nate Stanley and Noah Fant coming together for some crazy second-year synergy that number can only go up.
Odds of Fox Sports showing old footage of the water tower in a pregame show:
Number of overthrown touchdowns by Nate Stanley: