The Iowa Hawkeyes are coming off a heartbreaking loss at Arizona. The loss effectively squashes Iowa’s hopes of playing for a national championship. They look to take out their anger on an outmatched Ball State squad this Saturday.
The total for the game opened at 47 points and has come down to 46 or 46 ½ points, depending upon the book. The public is playing the over at 4:1, and still the line has come down slightly. That means some sharp money has come in on the under. Fading the public and following professional bettors is usually a good bet, and that’s the case in this match-up.
The Hawkeye defense is one of the best in the country. Iowa gave up 34 points to Arizona, but that wasn’t the defense’s fault. The first Arizona touchdown came off a blocked punt inside the 10 yard line. The next was a pick 6 via Ricky Stanzi. The third Wildcat touchdown came on a punt return. The defense really yielded 2 field goals and a fourth quarter touchdown against a pretty good offense on the road.
Iowa’s defense is better against the run than the pass, but the Hawks have a well rounded defense. They’re giving up 2.6 yards per carry and only 266 yards per game. Their front 4 is tremendous, and they seem to match up well with Ball State’s strength, which is running the football.
The Iowa offense took a hit, losing running back Jewel Hampton for the season with another ACL injury. Adam Robinson does a fine job, but Brandon Wegher is no longer with the team and Paki O’Meara is expected to miss this game due to a concussion. That means after Robinson, Iowa will have a fifth string, freshman running back. That lack of depth should mean fewer points for Iowa.
Regarding Ball State, they’ve played 2 cupcakes in Southeast Missouri State and Liberty, though they lost to Liberty. Last week they were competitive at Purdue, though they lost 24-13. Even with 2 FCS teams, the Cardinals are only averaging 307 yards per game, which is pathetic. MiQuale Lewis is a decent running back, and the Cardinals are much better running the ball than throwing it. But that plays right into Iowa’s hands. The Hawks are really tough against the run, and I don’t see enough size or athleticism on the Cardinal’s front line to battle Iowa’s big and talented front 4. I just don’t see this offense having much success against an Iowa defense coming off a loss.
The Ball State defense looks better than the offense. All 3 linebackers return from last year, along with 3 of the back 4. They gave up only 200 yards through the air to Purdue. Iowa’s offense is better than Purdue’s, but with Iowa so thin at running back, the Cardinals shouldn’t give up as many points. They yielded only 24 points to Purdue on the road.
The technical numbers are decidedly in favor of the under. Over the past 3 years in non-conference games, Iowa has played the total 2-9 while Ball State has played it 2-6. As a favorite, Iowa has played the total 6-11; as an underdog, Ball State has played the total 3-8. At home, Iowa has been 5-8 while Ball State on the road has been 4-8.
The public has been hitting the over, but there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for doing so. The under is the play to pay here. Fade the public favorite and back the under in this match-up.
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