The CyHawk Game annually produces one of college football’s best rivalries. Rarely lopsided, it gives us a back-and-forth, in-state battle between two usually methodical teams with good defenses. This year is no different. Coming off two wildly different Week 1s, we’ll look at Iowa State and Iowa along with odds movement and game analysis for what you can expect Saturday.
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Iowa State at Iowa Odds
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Iowa State at Iowa Odds Movement
Iowa opened as a 3.5-point home favorite against Iowa State. That’s a number that’s remained consistent and likely will. As always with numbers around a key figure (in this case, three points), timing is opportunity. Three points has the highest push rate in college football at 17%, meaning a half-point move towards Iowa State represents a 17-cent boost.
Backers of the Cyclones are wise to take the points now while Hawkeyes believers should hope this number drops to three.
More Of The Same
To think Iowa will have a repeat offensive performance as last week is a fallacy, but their offense certainly has serious foundational issues. Spencer Petras finished the week with the sixth-lowest EPA among FBS QBs and Iowa had just one snap in the red zone– a play that resulted in an Iowa fumble. In their first game without Tyler Goodson, Iowa finished 126th in rush EPA. As a team, they ranked 122nd in pass EPA.
The bottom line is: it really can’t get any worse for Iowa and this will almost certainly go down as an outlier performance.
But that doesn’t mean the offense is capable. Just one receiver caught a pass in Week 1 (Arland Bruce IV, 5-68-0), Petras finished with the lowest recorded QBR ever (1.1!) and with a 4.4 average yards per attempt. Quarterback is a serious red flag for the Hawkeyes, as is an offensive line that struggled against an albeit respectable South Dakota State front (as far as FCS goes).
We know exactly what this Iowa Hawkeyes offense is: ball control, special teams, and method. Petras will line up behind center on Saturday, per head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Even with Goodson in the backfield last year and a Big Ten title appearance, Iowa finished 2021 104th in points per drive scored. They finished 120th in EPA. While last Saturday’s disaster signals a regression to the mean, that mean could still be in the bottom-25 in college football. It’s why this game has an NFL-like over/under.
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Unless you’re presented with seriously egregious examples like Iowa’s opener against South Dakota State, it’s tough to judge a team based on one game against an FCS opponent. In Iowa State’s case, they took care of business in a 42-10 victory over Southeast Missouri State (SEMO). Lefty QB Hunter Dekkers tossed for nearly 300 yards and four touchdowns. Three of those went to All American receiver Xavier Hutchinson, who figures to be a centerpiece to State’s offense this weekend.
It’s unlikely that Hutchinson repeats his 8-128-3 outing this week. Iowa fields one of the best defenses in the nation, highlighted by playmaker Riley Moss. Dekkers did throw an interception against SEMO in Week 1, perhaps concerning against the country’s best turnover-forcing unit.
Junior back Jirehl Brock racked up over 100 yards rushing on just 16 attempts, a number that’s also likely to come down. Iowa’s front seven is led by All American Jack Campbell. The unit allowed just 33 rushing yards a week ago. Lead back Cartevious Norton is doubtful to play after suffering an injury early on against SEMO.
Expect Iowa State to attack Iowa through the air to try and create an unclosable gap for Iowa’s stagnant offense. Dekkers may be trusted early and often, especially with Hutchinson, who is large and by far the best offensive player in this game.
Iowa State at Iowa Forecast
Iowa’s the winner of the last six CyHawk games, most recently against a top-10 Cyclones team last year in Ames. While there’s no questions about their defensive fortitude, the offense is real mess. I can’t in all good consciousness bet on a team with such an incapable offense, especially when that offense has no linear path to improvement.
On the other hand, I’m not betting on a road dog at Kinnick against a top-flight defense. If anything, under is in consideration, though it won’t be a fun bet to watch unfold. Personally, I’ll be sitting this one out.