This Saturday the No. 18 ranked Wisconsin Badgers (2-1) will travel to Iowa City to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0). Kickoff is set for 8:30 EST at Kinnick Stadium and will be televised nationally on FOX.
Taking a look at the Week 4 NCAAF odds, the books opened the Badgers as a 3.5-point road favorite and that’s where the number still sits today. The total for this Big Ten West showdown is currently at 43.5 points.
Wisconsin vs Iowa Vegas Odds & Game Preview
The Badgers come into this one looking to bounce back from a shocking 24-21 home loss to BYU as a 23.5-point favorite. Wisconsin led 7-0 early in the 1st quarter, but BYU tied it up at 7-7 on their very next drive. The Badgers would never regain the lead. Wisconsin did have a chance to force overtime, but Rafael Gaglianone missed a 42-yarder with 36 seconds to play. The Badgers are now 0-3 ATS to start out 2018.
The Hawkeyes took down another in-state rival, as they followed up their 13-3 win over Iowa State with a 38-14 thrashing of Northern Iowa (led 38-0 going into the 4th quarter). Nathan Stanley threw for 338 yards and 2 scores and the Hawkeyes had 207 yards and 3 scores on the ground. While Wisconsin hasn’t covered a game to this point, Iowa is a perfect 3-0 ATS.
The Badgers have won each of the last two meetings and 5 of the last 6 overall. That includes 4 straight wins over the Hawkeyes in Iowa City. Iowa’s last win at home over Wisconsin was a 38-16 victory way back in 2008.
Free NCAAF Betting Prediction: Iowa +3.5
I would have to lean towards taking the points with Iowa in this one, as I think they have a legit shot at winning this game outright. Kinnick Stadium is one of the most difficult places to play in college football and there’s something special about this place at night. Two years ago the Hawkeyes came out of nowhere to stun No. 2 ranked Michigan 14-13 as a 21-point underdog in a home night game. Last year they nearly upset No. 4 Penn State, losing 21-19 with the Nittany Lions scoring a touchdown on the final play of the game.
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I also think after watching BYU go into Madison and beat the Badgers, the talent gap between these two teams might not be as big as originally thought. BYU’s defense more than held their own against that Wisconsin offense and the Cougars rushed for 191 yards, while averaging 6.8 yards/carry. BYU is definitely improved this year, but I would argue Iowa is every bit as good as the Cougars and likely a little stronger.
There’s going to be plenty of people calling out Iowa and their 3-0 start because of what looks like a soft schedule, but Northern Illinois is a team that was picked to win the MAC by a lot of people and nearly upset Utah the very next week. Iowa State on the other hand only lost by 10 at home to Oklahoma and they were without their starting quarterback. Even Northern Iowa is no pushover, as they came into the year ranked in the Top 15 of FCS programs.
I think that with the electric atmosphere and Wisconsin being a team that wants to run to set up the pass, this Hawkeyes defense can really make things difficult on this Badgers offense. Iowa comes into this game ranked 2nd in the country, allowing just 42 yards/game rushing and out of the 24 points they have allowed, 21 have come in garbage time in the 4th quarter. They held the same ISU offense that put up nearly 450 yards on the Sooners to just 188 total yards and 11 first downs.
The Iowa offense hasn’t been all that impressive, but a lot of that had to do with Stanley not playing up to his potential in the first two games. He looked like a different guy against UNI. I know lighting up a FCS defense is nothing to get overly excited about, but I think it was huge for his confidence going into this game. If he shows up and can keep Wisconsin from just loading the box, Iowa could runaway with this thing. Keep in mind BYU had just 120 passing yards in their win over the Badgers last week, so it’s not like he has to play well for the Hawkeyes to win this game. Give me Iowa +3.5.