Books went to press with a surprising initial serving for the highly-anticipated Big Ten showdown between No.17 Iowa and Nebraska. The AP-ranked Hawkeyes opened as the 4-point road underdogs on the college football odds board. Yup, true story! The line has since moved dramatically towards Iowa, and it;s likely to continue its upward trend as the public is backing the Hawkeyes over the Cornhuskers by a good margin.
|Iowa Hawkeyes||-1½ -110||41 -110o|
|Nebraska Cornhuskers||+1½ -110||41 -110u|
Iowa leads the head-to-head series 7-3 in the last 10 meetings, a run of form that includes a 5-5-0 record against the spread (ATS). The total has gone over in six of those 10 meetings.
Iowa is on a six-game winning streak against Nebraska, which includes a home and road win in their last two meetings. The Hawkeyes won at home 26-20 on Nov. 27, 2020 and they won on the road 27-24 on Nov. 29, 2019.
Next game: TBD
No.17 Iowa recorded its third-straight win Saturday, beating the Illinois Illini 22-23 to improve to 9-2 overall and 6-2 in the Big Ten. Thus, the Hawkeyes kept their slim hopes in the Big Ten West race alive.
The Hawkeyes closed as the 12-point home chalk on the betting online board, but the game was anything but a dominating performance as the odds suggested. Head coach Kirk Ferentz was the first to admit it in his postgame press conference.
The Hawkeyes got off to a slow start and before the first quarter ended, they were down 10-0. Quarterback Alex Padilla, who was making his second start, finished with an underwhelming 35 percent completion on his passes. He went 6 of 17 for 83 yards and an interception.
At the same time, Iowa’s problems on the offensive side of the ball were further exacerbated by its receivers, all of which seemed to be afflicted with butterfingers as passes were dropped left and right. Had it not been for the defense, special teams and the accurate foot of kicker Caleb Shudak, the Hawkeyes might have not clawed their way out of the hole to victory.
Quarterback Spencer Petras (undisclosed) is questionable for Friday.
Next game: Season over
The Cornhuskers slipped to a 3-8 mark in Week 12 following a 35-28 loss to the Wisconsin Badgers. Nebraska closed as the +10½-point road underdogs at the sportsbook exchange, and although they pulled off the cover for their backers, it was small consolation in an otherwise disappointing season.
Nebraska gave Wisconsin a run for its money at Camp Randall Stadium. Quarterback Adrian Martinez had a stellar day, going for 23 of 35 passes for 351 yards, while tight end Austin Allen had seven catches for 143 yards. Overall, the Cornhuskers put up 452 yards in total offense.
The Cornhuskers have been competitive. Seven of their defeats have come by one score or less, while only one defeat came by nine points — that was the 26-17 loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes earlier this month.
Quarterback Adrian Martinez (shoulder) is out while running back Rahmir Johnson (undisclosed) is questionable for Friday.
Betting on the Game
Nebraska is playing out the string on its fifth straight bowl-less season and while finishing on a respectable note might provide some motivation going into this Week 13 NCAAF contest, it’s hard to imagine the hosts clinching a victory at the expense of the Iowa Hawkeyes here. Even if the market opened with the Cornhuskers as the favorites. Although how that happened is a bit of a head-scratcher.
Nobody can say Nebraska is going to be a pushover. The Cornhuskers have shown fight and spirit in the face of adversity, giving as good as they got, and they’ve been within touching distance of massive upsets only to fall short in one-possession games. Heck, they very nearly upset Wisconsin last weekend, which would have massively boosted Iowa’s chances in the Big Ten Championship race.
However, Nebraska is a 3-8 team that is taking on a ranked Iowa that brings a 9-2 record to the table. A lot is being made about Nebraska’s ability to compete, but not enough is made about its inability to close out games. That’s a major strike against the Cornhuskers and it raises the probability of choking at the tail end of this game, too.
No.17 Iowa has one last crack at the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis, but they need to win this final game and hope Wisconsin stumbles against Minnesota on the same day. The Hawkeyes are tied with the Badgers at the top of the Big Ten West standings, but Wisconsin has the tiebreaker by virtue of beating Iowa 27-7.
The only way Iowa wins the Big Ten West is if they beat Nebraska and Minnesota beats Wisconsin. That kind of motivation is hard to overlook and could trump Nebraska’s attempts to play spoilers.
Last week’s less-than-stellar performance against Illinois likely took the shine off of Iowa’s odds for college football picks. However, they got the win in the end, which is all that matters. Indeed, the public has bet up the line massively with Iowa now trading as the small -1½ point road favorites, up from an opening line of +4.
Iowa at +4 was a steal bet but it’s unlikely to reappear again on the odds board. Kudos to those that jumped on that line early. Nevertheless, Iowa at -1½ where it currently sits, is still a value play. If you fancy Iowa to win, grab the line now before it gets higher.