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Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Maryland Terrapins Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by September 30, 2021
Taulia Tagovailoa

A pair of unbeaten Big Ten teams square off when Kirk Ferentz’s No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0) travels to the “Old Line State” to play the Maryland Terrapins (4-0) for an irregular Friday contest.

Iowa more or less eked past Colorado State in Week 4, 24-14, and failed to cover as 24-point home favorites. Otherwise, Iowa covered and beat its other three foes by double digits in each game. The Hawkeyes are grinding opponents down with a defense whose efficiency is ranked second in the nation by Football Outsiders and fifth in predicted points added (PPA). Iowa is holding teams to fewer than four yards per play, has nine takeaways this season and the Under has cashed in each game.

Maryland has won and covered three of its games but pulled out a 20-17 nail-biter as 7-point road favorites at Illinois Sept. 17. The Terrapins are being led by QB Taulia Tagovailoa and third-year head coach Mike Locksley. Currently, Tagovailoa leads the Big Ten in passing yards (1,340), passing touchdowns (10) completion rate (75.5%), and pass efficiency rating (173.2). Also, Maryland is outgaining opponents by 2.1 yards per play on average and has the 1th-best offensive success rate in the country.

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  • Opening Line: Iowa -4
  • Current Line: Iowa -3
  • Over/Under (O/U): 48
  • Location: Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium
  • Start Time: Friday, October 1, 2021, 8:00 p.m. ET
  • Last Meeting: October 20, 2018, Iowa beat Maryland 28-0 at home.


Ferentz has been at the helm in Iowa since 1999 and has a 172-106 overall record with six 10-plus win seasons and a 9-8 bowl game record. Over the past 10 seasons, Iowa is 40-43-3 against the spread (ATS) in Big Ten play and a conference-best 18-8 ATS as a road favorite. Maryland 3-3 ATS as a home underdog since 2019 (Locksley’s first season as head coach), 1-5 ATS vs. ranked competition and 5-10 ATS vs. conference foes. This is already Maryland’s winningest season in the Locksley era.

Action report

We got a Pros vs. Joe’s scenario in the betting market. According to, roughly two-thirds of the cash wagered is on Maryland while nearly two-thirds of the bets placed are on Iowa. However, oddsmakers have reacted by moving Iowa from a 4-point favorite down to a -3 consensus favorite. On the other hand, it’s one-way action on the Under but we’re seeing “reverse line movement”. For instance, more than 90% of the handle is on the Under. But, the total has been increased from the 46-point opener.

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There are sportsbooks offering Maryland at three-and-a-hook, which I have no choice but to take. First of all, I can envision Maryland’s offense finding success but Iowa’s offense has looked awful through four games. Iowa is 119th out of 130 charted college football programs in offensive PPA. Also, Iowa ranks 114th in offensive success rate and offensive explosiveness. Furthermore, Iowa’s offensive line ranks 118th in line yards per play and the Hawkeyes produce talent in the trenches. Iowa struggling to win at the line of scrimmage is worrisome if I’m a Hawkeyes fan.

Furthermore, I think we are getting a good price on Maryland in this spot because the market is overrating a ranked Iowa team. Maryland ranks slightly ahead of Iowa in ESPN Billy Connelly’s SP+ rankings. Also, the Terrapins have a higher net drive efficiency and net points per play. On top of that, this is the biggest game for Maryland in years and the Terrapins returned more starters from last year’s team. This Terrapins squad has to be eager to prove itself against a quality opponent after years of basement-dwelling in the Big Ten.

Lastly, the suspicious “reverse line movement” in the total has me leaning toward the Over. You have to wonder why the sportsbooks would make the total higher if everyone is betting the Under. The opposite should be true. If oddsmakers are forecasting a higher-scoring affair then I love the side with the better quarterback.

Pick:  Maryland +3.5 (-110 at BetMGM)

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Geoff Clark is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Geoff, check out his archive and follow him @Geoffery_Clark.

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