A week ago, nobody in the Hawkeye fanbase was terribly bullish on Iowa’s chances entering Happy Valley for a showdown with then #7 Penn State. Turns out, we weren’t bearish enough. The Hawkeyes were absolutely throttled by the Nittany Lions and to say the fanbase has turned pessimistic since last Saturday would be the understatement of the year.
Yet Vegas seems to disagree. The Hawkeyes remain second on most betting markets in terms of odds to win the Big Ten West (+125 on DraftKings Sportsbook) and come into Saturday’s home matchup with the Michigan State Spartans as heavy favorites. Iowa opened as double-digit favorites on DraftKings Sportsbook, but that number has climbed to Iowa -12.5 with an over/under that has also climbed modestly to 36.5 total points.
At The Pants, we’re... still pretty optimistic. That is strange to type given the tone of the staff chat and based on the content that’s been published this week, but at the end of the day, we’re expecting Iowa to bounce back to an extent on Saturday night. On average, we’re calling for Iowa to emerge victorious by a score of 21-10.
Not at all shocking that we’re still riding the under (hooray defense!), but the fact that we’re pretty close to calling for an Iowa cover on a double-digit spread with almost half of contributors calling for just that is pretty surprising.
Here’s a look at our individual predictions for Iowa vs Michigan State.
I don’t think Iowa is very good on offense. No really, I think they are probably not very good at all on offense. I know that might be surprising to some, but I believe it to be true. And that kind of analysis is why, as they say, they pay me the big bucks.
But I do believe Iowa’s offense is better than we saw last week. I also believe Penn State is worlds better than Michigan State. On both sides of the ball. I don’t expect the Hawkeyes to turn it over 4 times on Saturday night (or again this season). So I actually think we see more of what this team really is. And what they really are is a pretty good team with a very good defense that is capable of scoring 7 themselves while the offense is just OK enough to punch in a few short fields when things are going right.
I also think we get some sort of a “I told you so” game from Brian and Kirk Saturday night, complete with a few trick plays and an emphasis on taking shots to WRs.
Prediction: Iowa 27, MSU 13
Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice (or 50 times), shame on me. And still, I will never learn. After witnessing an offensive performance that we all have come to expect, I’m going to have hope that somehow the planets align and we can look somewhat like a team that decides offense is one of the three phases of football. I love Kirk Ferentz. I always will. If Kirk is going to go down with the good ship Brian (and George Barnett) that’s on him. Change has been needed. On to the game: the Hawks will put some points up on the board. Cade, as a Roseville Area Youth Football Association championship-level coach (6th grade), I give you permission to change any/all plays and chuck the football around. Offensive line, you fellas need to hit people. How’s that for coaching?!? Phil Parker is going to have his boys ready to eat. Same for LeVar Woods. I expect a special teams touchdown (possibly from a fake field goal). If we lay an offensive egg? My Hawkeye-colored gloves are coming off. Go Hawks!
Prediction: Iowa 24 - Michigan State 10
On paper, this looks like a game Iowa should win, maybe with ease. Iowa was embarrassed last weekend, and whenever that happens, whenever there are suddenly serious questions around his program, Kirk Ferentz rises from the ashes. Then given that Darth Dantonio is now involved in the Spartan program again, I imagine Kirk is ready to go. Michigan State is not good, and then they had their world turned upside down with the nearly $80 million dollar Mel Tucker, uh, mistake. I just wonder where their heads are at the rest of the season. With Tucker’s firing, the portal is open for 30 days - guys can leave, so are the Spartans locked in? It’s a program that is a dumpster fire, then they opened the hand grenade case and tossed them at the dumpster fire. They’re a total mess.
But do you really trust Iowa to suddenly come alive? I don’t. I think Iowa wins, but they predictably struggle. What should be a fun environment - Kinnick at night, in what looks to be a great weekend weather-wise - might get a bit squirrelly. This might get uncomfortable in the stadium, especially if Michigan State can get on the board early and take a lead. If the Spartans do that, hold on.
Prediction: Iowa 23, Michigan State 10
I’ve got to be honest with you, at this point there is nothing that makes me believe that this Iowa team can produce on offense. MSU’s defense is ranked #66 in the country atm, giving up 371.8 yards and 23.3 points per game. It’s right smack dab in the middle of the defenses that we’ve faced thus far (#5, #27, #119, #130), and this offense has struggled against all of them (even if the struggles abated against the two lesser opponents). Will they score, I think so, but not much.
Fortunately, MSU’s offense is quite bad (not as bad as ours, but still pretty bad), and our defense is better than theirs by a good margin. I feel like the Doughboyz can get back to business this week and the defense gets at least one score. It won’t be pretty, it will likely be boring, but it will be a win. At this point, what else would we expect?
Prediction: Iowa’s Offense: 7, Iowa’s Defense: 7, Iowa’s Special Teams: 6, MSU: 10
Iowa may not be a great team, but are they at least a good team? Probably not if they lose to a Michigan State team that fired its head coach earlier this week and has been outscored 72-16 over the past two games. It’s worth noting that, after Iowa’s last blowout loss to Penn State (41-14 in 2016), the Hawkeyes responded by winning the final three games of the regular season, including an instant classic upset of #3 Michigan, a shutout victory over Illinois, and a thirty-point win against #16 Nebraska. While I won’t go so far to predict a similar run of success for this Iowa team just yet, they should be able to take care of business this week.
Prediction: Iowa 21, Michigan State 10
Iowa’s offense is not as bad as it appeared last Saturday night in Happy Valley. Penn State’s defense is one of the best in the business, good enough to make life tough on anyone to score. But more than one thing can be true at the same time, the Iowa offense is still bad. Despite the talent picked up from the transfer portal, Iowa is averaging only 245.5 yards per game. In case you’re curious, that’s 6.1 yards less than the 2022 Hawkeyes averaged. The Nittany Lions may have made them look worse than they really are, but I don’t take much comfort in it.
Thankfully Michigan State isn’t Penn State. They rank 75th in total defense, so in theory it will be easier for Iowa to score points but they’ve got to do something different than what they’ve been doing. I don’t know what that is, if I did I’d be on the sideline tomorrow. The defense should be fine against the Spartans, I’m not as worried as some from what I saw last weekend. Kirk and Co. have shown they can put together great seasons after early stinkers, we’ll see potential but still no definitive answers tomorrow.
Prediction: Iowa 20, Michigan State 10
I don’t know man. I refuse to give this team any credit until credit is due, and from what I’ve seen the last 4 weeks, credit is barely due. I think this game will be closer than people expect. And if Iowa loses, well, it’s all gonna burn, baby.
Prediction: Iowa 13, MSU 10
So that’s how we see things playing out on Saturday night. How about you, Hawkeye fans? What is your prediction for Iowa’s matchup with Michigan State?
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.