The Iowa Hawkeyes are in slightly uncharted territory. They took home a much-needed home win on Saturday night over the Michigan State Spartans. It was a double-digit win in a game they were expected (by Vegas) to win by double digits. They didn’t cover, but they did beat a Big Ten opponent by 10 with a backup quarterback at the helm. They also topped the infamous 25 point mark.
Of course, there’s fine print attached to that. The most notable being the 7 points, and the victory, courtesy of a Cooper DeJean 70-yard punt return for a touchdown. Without that, Saturday would have ended in complete disaster.
The touchdown marks the 16th point the Iowa defense and special teams have scored for the Hawkeyes this year, meaning they have accounted for nearly 15% of Iowa’s total scoring this season. Put another way, without the defense and special teams outright scoring (setting aside for now short fields they create), Iowa would rank 108th nationally in points per game - 21 spots lower than their current ranking of 87th nationally.
Despite the abysmal numbers on offense, Vegas continues to have faith in the Hawkeyes. Most Iowa fans were flabbergasted the team was a 12.5-point favorite most of last week. That number fell to 10.5 the Friday before the game and sure enough, Iowa won by 10.
This week, the Hawkeyes opened as 3.5-point favorites on homecoming against our most hated rivals, the Purdue Boilermakers, according to our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook. With Iowa now sporting a backup QB, missing their All-Big Ten caliber tight end, with a starting OL banged up and down two RBs, that might seem surprising. Add in the context that Iowa was bad offensively before those injuries Hawkeye fans are surely scratching their heads again.
But Vegas tends to know with these things and this week they seem to think there might be some more scoring. The over/under opened at 41.5 total points, which is below the 44 points Purdue scored on their own in their win over Illinois last week, but the highest number Iowa has seen since their season opener against Utah State. Might we have a relative shoot out with Deacon Hill slinging shots down the field? Or do the bookmakers in the desert expect Cooper DeJean and this Iowa defense to continue doing their part to keep Brian Ferentz employed?
Whatever the case, the Hawkeyes open as favorites or the fifth time in six games. The Hawkeyes are 4-0 as favorites this season. They’re 2-3 against the spread on the year - 2-2 in games where they were favored (2-1 before they fell a half point short last week).
The Hawkeyes and Boilermakers are set to kick off at 2:30pm CT on Saturday afternoon in Kinnick. This week’s game will be broadcast on NBC’s streaming service, Peacock. If you’re not already a subscriber, it’s worth holding out until Saturday morning to get the most of your month-long subscription. The Hawkeyes are set to again be on Peacock for their matchup with Northwestern at Wrigley Field in four weeks.