The first weekend of college football is loaded with five matchups between ranked teams, and our Iowa-Indiana prediction is certainly a tricky game to pick. The Hoosiers enter the season ranked No. 17 on the heels of the most successful season in over 50 years. But the Hawkeyes enter the season ranked No. 18 and picking up a win at Kinnick Stadium is no small feat.
Longtime college sports writer Rob Dauster, the co-founder of The Field of 68 and The Field of 12 Network is here to break down the matchup and provide his Iowa-Indiana prediction for Week 1 of the college football season.
No. 17 INDIANA at No. 18 IOWA
GAME: 3:30 p.m. ET, BTN
MONEYLINE: Iowa -190 ML, Indiana +150 ML
LINE: Iowa (-2.5)
The 2020 season may have come in the middle of the dumbest pandemic of the millennium, but you won’t find too many Hoosier football fans complaining about the way their team performed. Indiana went 6-1 in the Big Ten. They spent time ranked in the top ten of the AP poll, and while that level of success is going to be nearly impossible to replicate — their schedule is bruh-ooh-tal — I’m not sure there has ever been a year where Hoosier fans were more excited about football than basketball.
But here we are.
Iowa, on the other hand, is going to be just as good as we’ve come to expect. They’ve got some good running backs, they’re going to be stingy on the defensive end and Spencer Petras is going to make Hawkeye fans everywhere wonder why their passing game is just so damn limited.
And while this is, on paper, probably the second-best matchup of the weekend, I have a hard time seeing how this game lives up to the expectations. Iowa isn’t flashy, on either side of the ball. They’re going to pound the ball on the ground, taking advantage of their massive offensive line, and they’re going to pepper their tight ends. There aren’t going to be explosive plays like we saw from Ohio State on Thursday night. We’re going to get long drives, milking the clock.
That’s also what Iowa is looking to do defensively. They have elite defensive backs, good linebackers, and finished last season No. 1 in the fewest explosive plays allowed. They make you put together long, time-consuming drives.
This is why I tend to lean towards the under here. The line has jumped up to 45.5, and while I’m less concerned with key numbers in college — I trust college kickers like I trust the last leg of a parlay — it still is relevant that the total has snuck above 45. The combination of new faces, fans in the stands, and an Iowa team that naturally limits big plays on both sides of the ball is enough to convince me.
If I was going to bet a side, I would probably lean towards Indiana. I think this ends up something in the neighborhood of a 17-14 game, but I don’t see a ton of value on that number.