Iowa Hawkeyes (4-4) @ Indiana Hoosiers (3-5)
Saturday, November 3
Big Ten Network
If you would have told me at the beginning of the season that I would be picking Indiana to win outright over Iowa, I would have probably assumed you were talking about basketball and the number 1 ranked Hoosiers' hoops team. However, here we are in the first weekend of November, and the Iowa Hawkeyes are really struggling, while the Indiana Hoosiers have exceeded expectations as of late.
Indiana Offense vs Iowa Defense
Iowa’s defense has struggled against teams that can pass the ball. Radcliff of Central Michigan went 26/35 283 yards 2 TD 0 INT, and Iowa lost that game. Matt McGloin of Penn State went 26/38 289 yards 2 TD 0 INT in a 38-14 rout in Iowa City. Indiana’s pass offense ranks #30 in the nation. Despite having a lackluster rushing attack keep defenses honest, the Hoosiers have still been able to move the ball through the air against quality opponents. The combination of their incumbent starting QB Coffman and the surprising freshman, Sudfeld, collectively totaled 282 yards 3 TD 0 INT and 352 yards 3TD 0 INT in home games versus Michigan State and Ohio State respectively. Last week, Sudfeld took over in the second quarter at Illinois. He finished 10/15 with two touchdown passes. Regardless of who is taking snaps for the Hoosiers this Saturday, they should be able to find holes in that Iowa secondary.
Iowa Offense vs Indiana Defense
At first glance, it appears that Indiana struggles at defending the run, as they rank #114 in rushing yards per game allowed. However, majority of those yards were given up to teams like Northwestern, Ohio State, and Navy. All of these teams run the ball much differently than Iowa. Northwestern and Ohio State have mobile QB’s that run the zone-read option. Navy runs the ball 75% of the time with their triple option attack. Iowa has a downhill, I-formation running game that is similar to Michigan State. Indiana held MSU and their stud running back, Bell, to only 2.9 yards per carry. Also, Iowa’s lone bright spot on offense, RB Weisman, is doubtful to play in this game. Indiana is at their best defensively when they can load the box without worrying about getting burned on the edges. Iowa doesn't really have the fast, impact playmakers that can break a long touchdown. If Indiana can limit the Hawkeyes on the ground, I’m not sure Vandenberg can keep Iowa in it with his arm. The Hawkeye offense has struggled most of the season, ranking #112 in total offense.
I would give the coaching edge to Kirk Ferentz and the Iowa Hawkeyes. I'm just not sure if Iowa has the health, motivation, and gameplan to pull off a road victory against a hungry and resurgent Indiana team. Indiana nailed down their first conference win in awhile last week at Illinois. Even though the Fighting Illini have been horrible this season, I believe that game will go a long way in building the confidence of this young Indiana squad.
Indiana has covered in their last four games, and they are 4-1 ATS in Big Ten play this season. Iowa is just 2-5 ATS on the year, including a 2-7 ATS record away from home in the past two seasons.
All of a sudden, Indiana has a lot to play for in the Big Ten Leaders division. After Wisconsin’s loss last week, Indiana is now in the mix to challenge the Badgers for a spot in the Big Ten title game. They should be fired up and ready to go in front of a packed house in Bloomington (which has been rare in the past several years).
Meanwhile, Iowa is sliding out of contention in the Legends division. They are banged-up, playing back to back road games, and they struggle away from home as is. Kirk Ferentz needs a win badly, but this Iowa team has gotten worse from week to week following their suprising win at Michigan State.
I usually don't put too much stock into line movement. If I see an advantage with matchups or situations, I will tend to make a play based on that credible evidence and my intuition, even if it goes against "sharp money" or other line movements. However, I found this line pretty interesting. Iowa opened up as a 1.5 point favorite, and they were quickly bet down to a 1.5
point underdog. Despite that line movement, according to Yahoo sports, 60% of the public still expects Iowa to win the game. That tells me that the sharp money is on Indiana to cover at home. Like I said, I don't always read into sharp money too much, but I certainly don't mind being on the same side as it. Take INDIANA -1.5