The Iowa Hawkeyes are in a strange place. They enter the weekend with a full game lead in the Big Ten West at 7-2 overall with a #22 ranking in the latest College Football Playoff ranks. And yet there is very little optimism for this team given the lackluster offense we’ve seen for years.
The folks in Vegas are right in line with fan sentiment. Our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook opened this one with Iowa favored by just 1.5 points despite playing at home. That has slipped down to just 1 point as of Friday morning. Similarly, the over/under opened at a historically low 29 total points but has dipped to an absurd 28 point throughout the week.
Here at The Pants, we’re equally pessimistic and as usual, we are betting the under. Always.
On average, we’re calling for Rutgers to defeat the Hawkeyes 12 to 11. That’s quite the contrast from pre-season when not a single staffer predicted Iowa to lose this one (it’s OK for us though, not a single fan respondent in our preseason poll picked it either). At 12-11, we are FIRMLY on the under (duh) and taking Rutgers on the moneyline cuz we don’t need no stinking points.
Ugh, it’s such a sad state of affairs and quite the contrast from men’s and women’s hoops.
Here’s a look at our individual predictions for this week.
I keep thinking that at some point the offense is going to accidentally do something better. There was a nice stretch in the middle of the season where we saw a real, live running game that truly made me hopeful they could be something the rest of the way. When they bowed their back and just ran the ball down Wisconsin’s throat, I thought they would be able to simply do that the rest of the way and that would set Deacon Hill up to be just successful enough.
I was wrong. But the defense continues to be better and better each week and this despite not creating turnovers at a rate we have become accustomed to. I think that reverses course this week and Phil’s group sets the offense up again with multiple short fields off of turnovers while keeping the Scarlet Knights out of the endzone.
Prediction: Iowa 13, Rutgers 9
Where do we even begin when talking about this storied matchup? Actually, the only memory I have is former Rutgers’ punter Adam Korsak getting a lot of love from the Kinnick crowd. Nowhere else in America do fans cheer wildly for punters. This game may break a record for punt yardage. I know nothing about Rutgers. I know our defense and special teams are salty. I also know our offense is not going to put up many (any) points. Iowa football is sometimes painful to watch, but I say we all try to embrace our imperfectly perfect team. Go Hawks!
Prediction: Iowa 13 - Rutgers 6
Two great defenses, two bad offenses, deja vu. Rutgers’ offense is bad, but not as bad as ours and they ran the ball for 200+ yards against a really good OSU defense last week. Phil Parker and his crew are doing everything they can to keep this team afloat, but I’m not sure that they’ve got enough gas in the tank to get to the Indy at the rate they’re going.
Gavin Wimsatt is the wildcard here, if the Iowa front 7 can bottle up Kyle Monangai and put the game on his shoulders they’ve got a pretty good shot at winning this game, but this is the best rushing attack they’ve seen this year and Wimsatt is the kind of mobile QB that has given Phil’s defenses fits over the years. As much as it pains me, I think my dad’s alma mater pulls this one off in a defensive slugfest that puts a lot of Sicko dollars in sportsbook pockets. No one will be happier than me if I’m wrong.
Prediction: Iowa 13 - Rutgers 17
Every time this Iowa team wins I want to buy in. Sure, the offense is as dynamic as an overturned Winnebago that’s on fire, but they’ve had some success when given opportunities by the defense and special teams. If the defense is playing its A game there aren’t many offenses that I’d worry about. Meanwhile, it’s a bit sad how encouraged I can be by a 23-yard completion to Kaleb Brown with under two minutes to play in a game. It’s possible guys, a downfield passing game IS possible!
Rutgers’ offense isn’t particularly scary but the defense is going to have to play well against Monangai and Wimsatt. The Rutgers rushing attack and mobile quarterback topped 200 yards against Ohio State so the threat is real. For some reason this one jumps out to me as a loss. Iowa hasn’t been getting the turnovers that have sustained it in prior years but have largely gotten away with it so far. I fear that catches up with them on Saturday.
Prediction: Rutgers 13, Iowa 9
It’s tough to justify picking against Iowa in a home game against an opponent with no recent history of success in big games (or really any games, for that matter) and a one-dimensional offense. However, at least Rutgers HAS an offense to speak of thanks to an excellent rushing attack. Expect Phil Parker to come up with a solution to slowing Rutgers’ ground game down, but the Scarlet Knights should be able to move the ball enough against Iowa to get on the board, especially if the Hawkeye offense gifts their opponent with excellent field position. Rutgers may not be able to score many points, but with their strong defense and Iowa’s slow-motion trainwreck of an offense, they may not have to.
Prediction: Rutgers 13, Iowa 10
Notttt feeling good about this one. This team barely beat a scrappy but awful Northwestern team. Turns out, not being able to move the ball on offense isn’t great!
Prediction: Rutgers 13, Iowa 6
I’m pretty much in-line with Matt on this. I’m just not feeling it for Iowa this week. Rutgers still isn’t there, and there are some trends working in Iowa’s favor against Big Ten East teams that aren’t the Michigan-Ohio State-Penn State triumvirate. And Rutgers has lost to everyone on their schedule that is in the average or above category.
But there is the Iowa offense to contend with. There’s nothing more to say about this abomination of an offense other than it will (again) cost Iowa a game they should win, and it will toss the Big Ten West back into chaos.
Oh and bet the under. You knew that already.
Prediction: Rutgers 13, Iowa 10
So that’s how we see things playing out this week. How about you, Hawkeye fans? Let us know your score predictions in the comments below.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.