Badgers? We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badgers (at Iowa)!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018 12:00 PM UTC

Tuesday, Sep. 18, 2018 12:00 PM UTC

It’ll be a toss-up Saturday when the No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers visit Iowa. But because they’re unranked, the Hawkeyes are 3.5-point pups on the NCAAF odds board.


Jason’s 2018-19 NCAAF picks record: 5-3 ATS (plus-2.00 units), 0-1 ML (minus-1.00 units)

No. 18 Wisconsin at IowaSaturday, 8:30 p.m. ET (Fox)Free NCAAF Pick: Iowa +3.5Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Anytime you’re looking at a marquee matchup for your college football picks, you want one of the two teams involved with their name on top, using the really big letters. Last week’s game between the USC Trojans and Texas Longhorns was not one of those games. Both teams have massive public followings; the Longhorns opened at around -3 (-105), and that’s where they were when the action closed just before kickoff. Not easy to find an edge in a game like that.

This week, we’ve got something a little more lopsided. The No. 18 Wisconsin Badgers (2-1 SU, 0-3 ATS) are one of the biggest brand names in the Big Ten, and at press time, they’re 3.5-point road faves on the NCAAF odds board for Saturday’s tilt with the unranked Iowa Hawkeyes (3-0 SU and ATS). This line hasn’t moved just yet; our consensus reports show 54 percent of the early (and presumably sharp) action on Iowa. But we expect the public will come in on Wisconsin and move those odds. Here’s the question: Do we want them to?

Lick the Poll

Yes, yes we do. The projections for this game have it as a near coin flip: ESPN’s Football Power Index likes the Hawkeyes to win 51.8 percent of the time. If there were such a thing as Iowa -0.5, that would be the “fair” point spread for Saturday’s matchup, so the further the odds move toward Wisconsin, the better.

That’s not how most people see it. Heading into Week 4, the AP writers gave zero votes to Iowa for their Top 25 rankings. The coaches felt a bit differently, giving the Hawkeyes what would have been No. 30 on their Top 25 poll (Wisconsin ranks No. 16, according to the coaches). But the fine folks at College Football News won’t have any of that. They’ve got Iowa at No. 14 out of 130 FBS teams, and Wisconsin at No. 29. So there.

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The #Hawkeyes are chasing their fifth 4-0 start under head coach Kirk Ferentz (2003, 2006, 2009, 2015). Iowa has won five of its last six Big Ten openers.

— IowaFBLive (@IowaFBLive) September 17, 2018
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Children of the Corn

There isn’t much agreement when it comes to the advanced stats, either. Football Outsiders is usually our go-to place for free data, but at the moment, they’ve only got their S&P+ Ratings updated through Week 3, which isn’t ideal. By these numbers, Wisconsin ranks No. 13 and Iowa ranks No. 34. Check in with FO later this week after they’ve updated their FEI Ratings, and mashed those together with the S&P+ numbers to create their almighty F/+ Combined Ratings. We’ll ride with the FPI for now.

Any way you slice it, this game looks like a toss-up on paper, and the public Badgers have yet to beat the football odds this year – while Iowa has done nothing but cash in. Quick: Who’s their head coach? Kirk Ferentz is the answer, as he has been since 1999, and Ferentz just became the winningest coach in team history, with zero fanfare given. It’s a classic “fade the public” scenario. Keep shucking that corn, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

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