Week Zero gave us a little taste of Big Ten football, but that game between Illinois and Nebraska pales compared to this one. Both teams enter this matchup inside the preseason top 25. Michael Penix Jr. and the Hoosiers shocked the world last season, but when his season ended, so did Indiana’s. This game is a chance for Indiana to prove their worth in the Big Ten, as they’ll play Iowa on the road.
Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook
- Opening Lines: Iowa -6; O/U 48.5
- Current ATS Line: Iowa -3.5
- Current Over/Under: 45
- Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
- Date: Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021
- Start Time: 3.30 p.m. EST
- Television: BTN
- Last Meeting: Iowa defeated Indiana 42-16 in 2018 on the road in Bloomington, IN
Questions surround the health of Indiana’s quarterback, Michael Penix Jr. Once he got hurt last season, Indiana struggled offensively was weak. The Big Ten is a tough conference to score points in when you don’t have a dynamic passer. Still, Indiana’s defense stayed strong, and now the offense will look to improve without Whop Philyor at wide receiver. Ty Fryfogle will still lead this team at wide receiver and should be one of many offensive contributors.
On the other hand, Iowa’s offense struggled last season behind Spencer Petras. Petras threw for just 1,569 yards and completed only 57.1% of his passes. He isn’t the best, but maybe he’ll improve. Instead, Iowa will rely on Tyler Goodson and their running game to lead the charge. Goodson ran for 762 yards last season on 143 attempts, and he figures to get a major workload with Mekhi Sargent now in the NFL.
Meanwhile, Iowa’s top tacklers will return this year. If Penix is any kind of slow in his first game back, Indiana may struggle to move the ball downfield. Iowa’s defense could contain really any team in the Big Ten this season, so this is an early test for Penix.
- Hoosiers are 8-0 ATS in their last 8 games as a road underdog.
- Hoosiers are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 conference games.
- Under is 4-0 in Hoosiers last 4 games as a road underdog of 3.5-10.0.
*Line movement analysis based on the DonBest Las Vegas betting market ticker*
Iowa opened as a six-point favorite, but they’ve fallen to just a 3.5-point favorite against Indiana. Also, the total has fallen from 48.5 to 45 over the last week.
If you check out our consensus odds, you won’t find many games with a total this low. College football saw an offensive explosion last season. While many analysts believe it was due to less practice time, it could just be that the rules favor the offense over the defense.
Either way, both quarterbacks have questions that need answers.
1. Can Petras complete more passes for bigger gains?
Petras really struggled to complete passes last season, and in turn, Iowa had to rely on their lethal running game. Fortunately, the offensive line has always been a strength for Iowa, and the running game took advantage. But if the Hawkeyes are trailing late, can you trust Petras to put together a game-winning drive? I wouldn’t.
2. Is Penix healthy enough to move around in the pocket and make plays?
The Indiana offense struggled without Penix, but the defense kept them in games all season long. I’m not ready to bet on him to be his normal self because he hasn’t gotten any NCAA action since his injury.
I completely agree with the line movement in this game. With where the lines sit now, it’s smartest to take the under. Iowa and Indiana have top-notch defenses that feature speed on the edge, big-time linebackers, and effective secondaries.
Let’s roll with the under 45 here.
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