The Miami Ohio RedHawks travel to Iowa City in Week 1 to battle the Iowa Hawkeyes. Kickoff is set for 7:30 PM EST on Saturday, August 31 at Kinnick Stadium and the game will be televised on FS1.
Taking a look at the Week 1 college football odds, Iowa opened as a big 21.5-point home favorite earlier this week. That line hasn’t changed at all after early betting, as the Hawkeyes are currently listed at -21.5. The total for the game is sitting at 49 points.
Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Iowa vs Miami Ohio
Miami had a mediocre year in 2018, going 6-6 overall and failing to qualify for a bowl game. They did perform quite well in conference action, going 6-2 over eight games to finish second in the MAC East division. However, the RedHawks couldn’t do quite enough to clinch a spot in the title game after finishing behind Buffalo. The offense could have some struggles to start the 2019 season as it appears as if Miami will roll out three co-starters at quarterback. Brett Gabbert, Jackson Williamson, and AJ Mayer couldn’t find a way to create any separation from each other during camp, so it will be interesting to see how the quarterback situation plays out as the season progresses. To make matters even worse, Miami also will be without their top two rushers from 2018, so whoever is playing quarterback may face even more pressure as the ground game will be significantly weakened.
The RedHawks were slightly above average on the other side of the ball last season, limiting opponents to 25.5 points per game on 368 total yards. They did do a pretty good job defending against the pass for the most part, giving up only 208.5 yards per game through the air (46th overall).
Iowa is coming off another solid season after going 9-4 overall and finishing in 4th place in the Big 10 West despite having a better record than both Wisconsin and Purdue. The Hawkeyes also qualified for the Outback Bowl, winning a thriller 27-22 against a tough Mississippi State team. Expectations are high yet again this year, especially since their division appears to be wide open after Northwestern lost a few important starters due to expiring eligibility. QB Nathan Stanley is returning for his senior year after an impressive 2018 where he threw 26 touchdowns and eclipsed the 5,200 career passing yard mark. Stanley will likely rely heavily on the receiving duo of Brandon Smith and Ihmir Smith-Marsette after the loss of the TE tandem of Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson. As a whole, the Iowa offense averaged a very respectable 31.2 points (44th overall) on 375 total yards per game.
The Hawkeyes were also solid on defense in 2018, limiting opponents to just 17.4 points per game on 290 yards of total offense. They were especially strong against the run, only surrendering 102.8 yards per game on the game (8th overall).
NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Iowa -21.5
I’m actually pretty shocked that this line is currently as small as it is, especially with all the uncertainty at quarterback for Miami. The fact that nobody was able to grab the starter position outright doesn’t necessarily bode well for an offense that lacks explosiveness to begin with. Throw in the fact that the RedHawks also have to replace their top two rushers from 2018 and it’s easy to imagine a scenario where a tough Iowa defense has a field day against whoever is getting the bulk of the playing time at quarterback. Especially when considering that Miami also has to replace two important members of their offensive line.
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Iowa appears to be extremely well balanced on both sides of the ball, as their offense is certainly more than capable of putting points on the board in a hurry. Outside of losing a couple of valuable tight ends, nothing much has changed for a unit that averaged over 30 points per game last season. I think they should be able to put this game out of reach by halftime, especially at home. I’ll take the Hawkeyes to cover with relative ease here in Week 1.