Move to Magic Number Makes Iowa the Right Pick Over Purdue

Jason Lake

Thursday, November 1, 2018 8:39 PM UTC

Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 8:39 PM UTC

The Iowa Hawkeyes opened as slim road dogs for Saturday's game against the Purdue Boilermakers. The NCAAF odds have moved towards Purdue since then. It’s harvest time.

Jason’s 2018-19 NCAAF picks record through Week 9:
11-11 ATS; 0-1 ML (minus-1.00 units), 0-2 Totals

No. 19 Iowa at PurdueSaturday, 3:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)Free NCAAF Pick: Hawkeyes ATSBest Line Offered: 5Dimes

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There are some very interesting line moves on the Week 10 college football odds board. The move we’re focused on today isn’t the biggest one on the board, but it’s definitely worth a closer look – because the odds seem to be heading in the wrong direction. It’s Saturday’s Big Ten battle between the No. 19 Iowa Hawkeyes (6-2 SU and ATS) and the Purdue Boilermakers (4-4 SU, 5-3 ATS). Iowa opened as 1.5-point road dogs; at press time, they’re down to +2.5, with several books offering +3 if you’re willing to pay a premium on the juice.

We’ll get to that juice in a moment. The important thing here is that Purdue is favored in a game that the computers say Iowa should win. FiveThirtyEight project the Hawkeyes’ chances at 54 percent, which translates to a vig-free moneyline of Iowa -117 using the transcendental SBR Odds Converter. Cross-reference that result with the college football charts at Wizard of Odds, and you get Iowa -1.5 as an equivalent point spread. Curious.

Hi in the Middle, Burned at Both Ends

The love for Purdue is understandable, if somewhat misguided. Two weeks ago, they put the boots to the then-No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes, 49-20 as 12-point home dogs. Very nice. But on the season, the Boilers are No. 23 on the F/+ Combined Ratings at Football Outsiders. The Hawkeyes are No. 16.

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Field judge either ready to call a timeout or delay of game right before the killer interception. #Hawkeyes

— Hawkeye Headquarters (@HawkeyeHQ) October 28, 2018

Iowa’s most recent encounter with a ranked team didn’t go quite as well as Purdue’s. They fell 30-24 to the Penn State Nittany Lions, who were No. 17 in the polls at the time. But Iowa came this close to covering as 5.5-point road dogs. They even had the ball at the Penn State 2-yard line in the dying minutes before Nick Scott rudely interrupted Iowa’s progress with the game-saving interception you can sort of see above.

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

This looks like one of those situations where recency bias has reared its ugly head. Purdue’s win over Ohio State is still fresh in everyone’s mind – maybe even fresher than last week’s 23-13 loss to the Michigan State Spartans (+2.5 at home). Iowa hasn’t faced the Buckeyes yet, and won’t unless they somehow end up meeting in the Big Ten title game; Penn State was their highest-profile opponent thus far.

You have to have both a short and a long memory when you make your college football picks. It also helps to shop around. Given the option between Iowa +2.5 (+100) and Iowa +3 (-125), you should definitely forgo that half-point and take the +2.5 with the price discount on juice. But at press time, The Greek has Iowa at +3 with the standard –110 vigorish, so if that or something better is available when you read this, hop to it, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

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