Big Ten Expert Football Picks: Michigan State at Iowa

Michigan State Spartans at Iowa Hawkeyes
Saturday, 10/30/2010, 3:30 PM EST, TV:  ABC
Opening Point Spread:  Iowa -6
Current Betting Line:  Iowa -6.5
Opening Total:  50
Current Total:  50
Current Moneyline:  Iowa -250 / Michigan State +210

Iowa Hawkeyes Football
The Iowa Hawkeyes are a healthy 6.5-point home favorite against the undefeated Michigan State Spartans this week

Michigan State is coming off an exciting 35-27 comeback win over Northwestern last week and now heads back on the road for what many are calling the school’s toughest obstacle remaining for a Big Ten championship.  “The next step is probably what we thought going into the season, one of our bigger challenges:  going on the road to play Iowa,” said Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio.  “They win the right way.”  Saturday’s game marks the 42nd meeting between the two schools and the Spartans trail 18-21-2 in the series, including an 8-12-1 record in games played in Iowa City.  The team has dropped eight of the last 12 meetings, but the last three have been decided by a combined 12 points.  It won’t be easy to remain undefeated and the Spartans must win at Iowa for the first time since 1989 to do it.  Michigan State is 4-0 ATS versus conference opponents and the college football oddsmakers have still made them a 6.5-point underdog.

The Spartans have been successful in taking the ball away and currently rank eighth nationally in forcing 20 turnovers, which has resulted in a +1.13 turnover margin.  The 20 takeaways are six more than last season’s total in 13 games.  Michigan State also gets it done on the ground, ranking fifth in the Big Ten and No. 28 in rushing offense, averaging 193.5 yards per game.  Under Dantonio, the club is 13-2 in games it gaines 200-plus yards rushing, including a perfect 5-0 in 2010.  Quarterback Kirk Cousins is also gaining respect from opposing defenses after throwing for 331 yards and three touchdowns last week.

Iowa dropped a 31-30 home game to the Wisconsin Badgers last week and now looks to spoil a perfect season for Saturday’s opponent.  “They are a very balanced football team,” Ferentz said of Michigan State.  “They are playing very well right now.”  The Hawkeyes have still won 48 of their last 58 games in Kinnick Stadium dating back to the 2002 season, including a 4-1 mark this season.  Iowa ranks 11th nationally in scoring defense by allowing just 15.7 points per game and eighth in rushing defense (92.1 ypg).  The squad is 4-2 ATS this year and 21-10 ATS over the last three campaigns combined.

The Hawkeyes rush defense has posted some impressive numbers this year, but the unit has surrendered five rushing scores the past two weeks after not allowing any over the first five games.  Iowa generally plays a conservative brand of football and limits mistakes which is represented in ranking fifth in the country in turnover margin.  Part of this year’s success has been the improvement of quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who has thrown a touchdown in each of his last 16 games.  He was also just named one of the 16 semifinalists for the Davey O’Brien Award, which goes to the nation’s top signal caller.

Bettors will be interested in knowing that the Spartans are 1-4 ATS in their last five games as an underdog of 3.5 to 10 points, while the Hawkeyes are 27-11 ATS following a SU loss.

Don’t let another Saturday of winners pass you bye and get on board with the college football handicappers at Maddux Sports.

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