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This game has one of the more interesting lines of the week with Oklahoma State starting out as 14-point favorites. Some of it has to do with a revenge factor as Iowa State spoiled Oklahoma State's bid at the National Championship game last year when they gave the Cowboys their only loss of the season. This year hasn't been as good for OK St. as they already have two losses and sit at 3-2. The Cyclones also have two losses, but have one more win.
A big question in this game revolves around the Cowboys quarterback position as Wes Lunt may be set to return from a knee injury he picked up in their third game. Freshman J.W. Walsh has led the team in Lunt's absence. Walsh hasn't been bad, but his only wins were against Louisiana-Lafayette and Kansas with a loss to Texas. Lunt wasn't the model of perfection when he played either as he tossed three interceptions in a loss to Arizona. The OK St. quarterbacks have combined for 1,691 yards, 14 TDs and seven INTs on the year. Josh Stewart has been the most consistent of their WRs with 365 yards and three touchdowns. Their running game has been solid all season on the legs of Joseph Randle. He has 104 rushes for 614 yards and six TDs. Surprisingly, he was only able to pick up 80 yards and 29 carries against Kansas last week.
Iowa State doesn't have a top class offense, but their defense is what's been keeping them in games. They won at Iowa earlier in the year, 9-6. Even in losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State, the Cyclones still kept each offense in check, only giving up 51 points in those two games. In their biggest road win, they took out TCU 37-23. If their defense can hold down OK St. just a little bit, Iowa State may be able to upset the Cowboys again.
Jared Barnett took over for Steele Jantz at QB a couple weeks ago, but doesn't look any better. His completion percentage is under 50, but he does have five TDs and two INTs in two games against the tough defenses of TCU and Kansas State. Barnett's top receiver changes on a game-by-game basis which means there is no one the defense can put attention on. The Cyclones run game is an even bigger question with starter James White out due to knee surgery. Against Kansas State, Barnett ended up being their leading rusher while Shontrelle Johnson was only able to record 17 yards. Johnson has 58 carries for 246 yards on the season.
In last year's game, Iowa State won 37-31 as 26.5-point underdogs. It was warranted as well, as Barnett went off for 376 passing yards, three TDs and 84 rushing yards. The Cowboys will have to find a way to stop Barnett this year.
Oklahoma State is a disappointing 1-4 ATS in their last five games with the over hitting in four of those contests. The Cyclones have covered in five straight road games while the under has hit 10 times in their last 14 road games. The favorite is 6-1 ATS in their last seven meetings along with the home team being 5-1 ATS in the last six games between the two teams.
We put this game out as a Key Release and have to admit the game scares us. Why? Well, 95% of the action at sportsbook.ag, according to their betting trends, is on Iowa State. Anytime you have that kind of one sided action yet have a line that doesn't budge, or actually moves the other way, as it did earlier in the week, it's cause for concern. The percentages are lower at other books, but still favor Iowa State with around 65% on average.
But while betting trends are useful and have their place in the handicapping process, you really can't become obsessed with them. If you do, they can talk you out of just as many winners as they do losers. You have to have faith in your handicapping and then lert the chips fall where they may.
Revenge is a powerful angle in college football and in this spot, Iowa State cost the Cowboys a chance at a national title. When you have a program that is head over heels better than another, and they are upset by the weaker program in a huge spot, you can expect an absolute obliteration in the pay back game. But is that the case here? Is Oklahoma State head over heels the better program? Not really. If you look at the recent history here, al games played from 2000 on, you'll see that Iowa State is actually 4-3 in those games. Oklahoma State won by wide margins in 2009 and 2010 but we all saw how the gap closed last year and keep in mind, this isn't the same Oklahoma State team, especially on the offensive side of the ball.
If you look at this years results for Oklahoma State, you'd have to question how good, or bad this team really is. They barely got by 1-5 Kansas 20-14. They lost to Texas 41-36, which actually looked good at the time, but after Texas was destroyed last week, we're not so sure. They were also whipped by Arizona, 59-38. Two of their 3 wins were against Savannah State and Louisiana Lafayette.
When you look at Iowa State this year, you see a win over Iowa, A close game against a Texas Tech team that just blew the doors of West Virginia, and a close game with a chance to win in the final minutes against a powerful, #6 ranked Kansas State last week.
We have Iowa State as having played a schedule that's been 10 points more difficult than Oklahoma State's and yet they have posted the better numbers as can be seen by their yards per point numbers of 13.2 and 19.3 for a +6.1 differential. Oklahoma State's numbers are good offensively at 12.3 but terrible defensively at 13.4. Lastly, our score prediction model has Iowa State winning the game straight up.
Revenge is big here, but we have to go with the numbers and the numbers suggest that the difference between these two teams is much less than 14 points. Based on our methods, this is an automatic play. That simply means, when the numbers are right, we expect to win this game around 55% of the time. This one particular game may win or lose, but if we play it every time it comes up, we expect to be profitable. So, we play.
Iowa State +14.5 is what we put the game out as on Wednesday, but it's still good at +14.
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