Game day is nearly here for the first time in 2021 and that means it’s time for the return of The Pants Predicts. Week one features a difficult matchup for the Hawkeyes as they play host to #17 Indiana and a slew of returning All-Big Ten talent.
Iowa opened up as 5.5 point favorites in this one, but the line has moved against the Hawkeyes as the season has drawn near. As of the time of our staff’s predictions, the line was at 3.5 on most books with the over/under set at 46.
The Pants is on the Hawkeyes as a group. Of the 9 staff members making predictions, 7 are taking Iowa to win both straight up and against the spread. Feel free to let the other two know how you feel in the comments.
On average, the staff is predicting a 25-21 win for the Hawks. For the math majors, that squeaks out a win against the spread, but is a dead on hit for the O/U. If you’re interested in putting your money where your mouth is, below is a dynamic look at the line for this one across sports books that may be available in your area. You can click any of the listed lines to take the action. As always, please gamble responsibly.
OK, on to the individual predictions.
I’m high on this Iowa team for the full 2021 season, but I expect some bumps in the road early. Indiana presents a unique challenge for Iowa’s defense and while I expect it to be strength on strength, I don’t expect it to be the best outing of the season for the Iowa D. On the flip side, I’m confident in Iowa’s ability to run the ball as the season goes along, but expect it to take some time for the offensive line to really come together. That’s time they don’t have against an experienced and talented IU defense.
I see some punches traded back and forth, but ultimately Indiana’s defense causes more mistakes by the Iowa offense.
Indiana 24, Iowa 20
Indiana is rolling into town with a slew of high profile names on offense and defense. Their combination of Penix Jr. and Fryfogle was devastating to opposing defenses last year. On defense, an aggressive heavy blitz style is one that will test Iowa’s 3 new starters on the offensive line and Spencer Petras. The thing is, Indiana was terrible in trenches last season. They did pick up some transfers to help, but how often does Iowa lose to a team that isn’t good upfront? And don’t get into my mentions with those times because I’m sure it will just bring back terrible memories.
Iowa wins the point of attack and will win this game. It might be ugly at times (maybe too many times), but a rowdy and boozed-up beer-selling Kinnick Stadium will be too much for the Hoosiers. Hawks win. Hawks cover. The party has begun.
Iowa 28 - Indiana 24
I think this year’s Hawkeye squad starts hitting on all cylinders… later this year. Our offensive and especially defensive lines will experience growing pains early on. I’d love to pick our squad week one vs Indiana. The Hoosiers return too many battle-tested players. Also, I picked the Hawks to win last year against Purdue and Northwestern. Loss. Loss. After that I picked against our boys. We won out. You will thank me later. As always, Go Hawks.
Indiana 24 - Iowa 20
I am simply too convinced that for every team that stepped on a rake and into a ditch in 2020, there was a team like Indiana, that just so happened to dig that ditch and get paid for the privilege of doing so.
While Iowa had a very Iowa season by all accounts last year, Indiana damn near touched the sky. And I think the Hoosiers are gonna be chasing that high all year long.
Iowa 30 Indiana 16 or something
In limited research, the most points Iowa has allowed to a ranked opponent in Kinnick since 2017 is 28 to Wisconsin in 2018 - a game rife with Iowa miscues and that last Badger touchdown was a gift - and 24 to Ohio State in 2017 which was a 31-point Iowa win people often forget about. Diving deeper, Iowa’s 17-2 when home favorites during that time frame. The losses were 2017 v Purdue and 2018 v Northwestern. sad face
So the numbers tilt towards an Iowa win (I’ll have why it’ll be low-scoring in PONKS and that, my friends, is a tease). Additionally, I will believe IU & PSU simply body switched in the first game of last year until proven otherwise and we return to normalcy in 2021.
Iowa 21 Indiana 16
I’m probably way too confident in this Iowa team but I’m also not overly impressed with Indiana. In an all conference season their best win was over a very depleted Wisconsin team. Penix is coming off a major injury and while he is an elite talent, I like Iowa’s defense enough to think they can slow him down. I do think Iowa loses their streak of holding opponents to 24 points or less, but they take care of business and cover.
Iowa 31 Indiana 27
There are plenty of reasons for concern with this matchup. Penix to Fryfogle will be an extremely difficult combination to stop, and the Indiana defense seems tailor-made to give Spencer Petras fits. However, the Hawkeyes should have an advantage in the trenches on both sides of the football, and Tyler Goodson could have a big day if the Iowa running game starts to click early. The edge goes to Iowa thanks to Kinnick Stadium; Indiana had a great season in 2020, but they did so in a series of empty stadiums, and they have NO idea what kind of environment they’ll be walking into when they enter Kinnick Stadium chalked full of 70,000 football-starved fans.
Iowa 24, Indiana 20
For the first time in what feels like forever, Iowa is playing a truly meaningful home opener, which happens to be a conference game against a nationally ranked team. The excitement is definitely immeasurable and it’s not just because of the newly added Kinnick beer stands.
In regards to Indiana, their approach to the game is rather gimmicky as they blitz at nearly a 50% clip rate, rely on turnovers forced by their defense to facilitate much of their offense, generate pass rushing pressure not through the defensive line, but through off ball linebackers... On the offensive side, their offensive line was one of the worst in the conference last season and did very little in improving that unit. This feels like a game that Iowa should control all the way through.
Iowa 24, Indiana 13
The first game is always tough to predict. I have a lot of questions about both teams, but I think Iowa takes home the cake here based on sheer execution alone. But it’s goin to be close — closer than we’d like. Iowa might be down for awhile until close to the end. But let’s hope for a blowout.
Iowa 28, Indiana 24
So to recap, we have seven staffers on Iowa to cover. The two taking the Indiana side are not just taking the points, but taking the Hoosiers to win outright.
Here’s an overview of the individual picks for the staff in week 1:
What’s your prediction for this one? Will the Hawkeyes head to Ames with a borderline top-15 ranking, or is the first game with fans in Kinnick in nearly two years going to leave Iowa fans disappointed?