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Ohio State vs. Iowa

Betting Line: Ohio State -3 o/u 48

11/20/10

 

The Ohio State Buckeyes won't be playing for a BCS Championship this year. Due to the resurgence of Wisconsin and Michigan State, it is possible that they won't play in a BCS game at all. That is a harsh fate for a team that could very well finish the year 11-1.

Don't expect the Iowa Hawkeyes to feel sorry for them though. HC Kirk Ferentz's team stands at 7-3 after losing a game 21-17 to Northwestern that they led by 10 points in the 4th quarter. Both teams find themselves with their fates in the hands of someone else, but don't expect that to soften up the combat on the gridiron.

The Buckeyes are a 3 point favorite, and early action favors them 58% to 42%. HC Jim Tressel's team is a crazy good 8-2 ATS this year. Ferentz's squad is over .500 at 5-4. Ohio State has won this matchup three years in a row, so expect revenge to play as a factor for this Iowa team whose seniors will recall all 3 of those defeats. Especially last years 26-24 loss. In the last 10 meetings between these schools, Ohio State is 7-3 ATS.

After a very good start to the 2010 year, QB Rick Stanzi has come back to Earth just a bit. Two weeks ago in a narrow victory over lowly Indiana, he threw a single TD and INT. Against Northwestern he tossed 2 TDs and a single INT. His completion percentage of 56.1 for the game is the lowest he has had this year. It harkens back to last year where he averaged 56.3%. On the year his numbers in that category are way up and stand at 66.4% The 23-year-old senior has passed for 6,855 yards and 53 TDs in his career. Already an Orange Bowl winner, a victory over Big Ten stalwart Ohio State would be quite an exclamation point for his career.

Another key member of the Iowa offense is RB Adam Robinson. The sophomore had his TD streak of 3 games snapped last week, despite picking up 108 yards on 22 carries. WRs Marvin McNutt and Darrell Johnson-Koulianos have combined for 1,333 yards on 82 catches and 15 TDs. The offense is doing all this stellar work behind a strong offensive line. The Bucks possess one of the better defenses in the nation, and the Hawkeyes have been slow to score in the past two games, but the offensive firepower is definitely there.

Ohio State's offense has really rolled along since losing to Wisconsin in midseason. One time Heisman candidate Terrele Pryor has passed for 2,136 yards and 22 TDs this year. He picked up 4 more TDs and 512 yards with his legs. The junior is a prolific player and can really break things open when playing his best football. WR Dane Sanzenbacher has been his best target with 43 catches for 716 yards and 9 TDs.

RB Dan Haren is also playing very good football. He has found the end zone 13 times on 150 carries for 824 yards. These Buckeyes have given us no reason to believe they can't score on Iowa, but this is clearly the best defense they will face in 2010. Their last big challenge against a defense came against Wisconsin, and they only mustered 18 points. Can they improve here on the road?

The boys in Iowa know how to play defense. On the year they are allowing just 308 yards per game. When playing at home that number shrinks to a tiny 244 yards per game. They don't get many sacks, but they keep points off the board. That is what counts!

Believe it or not, the Buckeyes defense has been even better. They are giving up only 238 yards per game. That is an INCREDIBLE number. The largest amount of points they have allowed this year is 31. Other than that is 24. Iowa will have their work cut out for them trying to score against this stellar bunch.

We've wanted to bet Iowa in this game for several weeks now. At the time we circled this game, Iowa had just one loss and Ohio State was undefeated. We anticipated this game being for all the Big 10 marbles, but Iowa didn't hold up it's end of the bargain. So, this game takes on a new look. We're going to show you why our numbers favor Iowa and then we're going to explain why we are passing the game.

Great Big 10 matchup. Both teams come in with spectacular yards per point numbers. Ohio State is a fantastic 10.9 on offense and a 17.5 on defense. That offensive number for the Buckeyes places them among the top 3 or 4 in the Nation as far as offensive yards per point, which is huge. It simply means they have no trouble finding the end zone and are making use of the yards they gain. Iowa isn't so bad either offensively with a 13 but where they stand out is on defense, where they sport a fantastic 20. Which means they are keeping points off the board. Ohio State is +14 in turnover margin while Iowa is +12. Fantastic numbers for both teams. These are two solid  football teams. 

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There's another method we use to come up with a predicted score that's very accurate. In this game, the predicted score comes up Ohio State 20-19. Just about every statistical handicapping method we use, comes up favoring Iowa plus the points here. Likewise, the motivational edges would seem to favor Iowa. It's a revenge game, as they lost by a field goal at Ohio State last year. Now they get the Buckeyes in their own building, a higher ranked team, a team with a better record, a chance to prove they are just as good with the home crowd behind them to boot.

Iowa certainly looks like a solid play here. Don't let us talk you out of playing them if you already like them in this spot. All signs point to Iowa. We are staying off this game simply because of a hunch that Iowa isn't as good as Ohio State despite what the numbers tell us. There's enough uncertainty in this handicappers mind to simply pass the game and watch it as a fan.

You can excuse Iowa for losing last week to Northwestern. Perhaps they were looking ahead. Which, if that were the case, would bolster the play on Iowa this week. But other than that one bad game against Wisconsin, the Buckeyes have been winning with purpose. They haven't been squeaking by. They have been winning by large margins. After losing to Wisconsin they have won 3 games in a row by a combined margin of 46-8.

When you look at the Iowa dance card, what stands out is losing to Northwestern. Barely getting by Indiana 18-13. Giving up 31 to Wisconsin, 28 to Michigan, and 34 to Arizona in a losing effort. It seems clear that Ohio State is going to get their points Saturday. What doesn't seem clear, is whether or not Iowa will be able to match them.

We would have expected some additional line value here as a result of Iowa losing to Northwestern last week. But it's not there. If this line came up Ohio State -7 for example, we'd bite. But at a field goal, it's simply not enough to interest us here. So, yes, all signs point to Iowa, and if you like them, go ahead and play. It's not a bad play. For now however, we're going to watch this one from the sidelines.
 

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