This Saturday the Northwestern Wildcats will host the No. 20 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes. Kickoff is set for 12:00 EST at Ryan Field and will be televised on ESPN2.

Oddsmakers opened up this line at Iowa -9.5 but early money has this line crossing the key number of 10. It’s not Hawkeyes -10.5. Total hasn’t moved off the opening number of 37.5.

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Vegas Betting Preview & Game Odds: Iowa vs Northwestern

Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2 SU, 2-5 ATS)

Iowa was able to bounce back from back-to-back closes losses against ranked teams in Michigan and Penn State with a 26-20 win at home over Purdue. It was nice to get back in the win column, but that wasn’t the kind of performance many were expecting. Iowa didn’t sniff covering as 17.5-point favorites.

Hawkeyes have failed to cover in three straight and are just 2-5 ATS on the season. With Iowa’s inability to do a whole lot offensively and the talent they got on defense, not a big shocker they have been involved in some really low-scoring games. UNDER has cashed in 5 of their last 6.

One big positive for Iowa from Week 8 was Wisconsin getting upset by Illinois. While they are still two back of Minnesota in the West, they get the Gophers at home in a few weeks. Iowa has to be thinking win out and they will be headed to the Big Ten title game.

Northwestern Wildcats (1-5 SU, 2-4 ATS)

Northwestern was no match for Ohio State, as the Buckeyes went into Evanston and annihilated the Wildcats 52-3 in rare Big Ten Friday night matchup. They lost by 49 as 26.5-point underdogs. The stat that jumps off the page to me is the mere 42 yards passing the Wildcats finished the game with.

You just have to wonder how much of that is Ohio State simply being on a different level than the rest of the Big Ten. Prior to that blowout loss, Northwestern had covered back-to-back games. They lost by just 3 at home to Nebraska as a 7.5-point dog and by just 9 at Wisconsin as a 22.5-point dog.

Matchup History

Northwestern has had the Hawkeyes number of late, as the Wildcats have won 3 straight in the series. Last year Northwestern went into Kinnick and beat Iowa 14-10 as a 10-point dog.

NCAA Football Betting Predictions & Free Pick: Northwestern +10.5

My early lean would be take the points with Northwestern at home. I’m shocked that Iowa is laying double-digits on the road with how bad that offense has looked the last week weeks. I get struggling to move the ball against the likes of Michigan and Penn State, who both have elite talent on the defensive line. To have to grind the way they did against Purdue’s defense is not good.

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You hear a lot about Iowa’s offensive line and the two NFL prospects they got at the left and right tackle spots. The problem is the interior three are not good. They barely averaged more than 3 yards/carry against the Boilermakers and that’s after totalying 71 rushing yards in the previous two combined.

Northwestern is giving up 187 rushing yards/game, but only 4.4 yards/carry and the numbers are a bit skewed because of their tough schedule. They have already faced Stanford, Michigan State, Wisconsin Nebraska and Ohio State, with 3 of those on the road. Their only easy game was at home against UNLV.

They only gave up 17 to Stanford, 24 to Wisconsin and 13 to Nebraska. They allowed 31 to Michigan State, but a lot of that was due to turnovers. Spartans only had 337 total yards.

It’s also looking like Iowa will be without leading receiver Brandon Smith, who is their best weapon on the outside. Another big injury for the Hawkeyes is on the other side of the ball, where leading tackler Kristian Welch might have to miss another game.

Add in how well Pat Fitzgerald’s team has done against Kirk Ferentz of late with 3 straight wins, two of those at Iowa, I don’t know how you don’t take Northwestern +10.5. Wildcats could easily win here outright. Give me Northwestern +10.5!