College Football Dog of the Week: Why Indiana Upsets Iowa
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Welcome to Dog of the Week, where we comb through the week’s college football odds to find our favorite underdog to win outright.
That’s one college football betting underdog to hit on the moneyline each week, along with the best odds on that upset bet and a full breakdown of the matchup. Sound good? Good.
Let’s get started with our first Dog of the Week for the 2021 season – The Indiana Hoosiers.
Indiana opened as a +3.5 underdog for the season opener at Iowa at most sportsbooks, with the Hoosiers’ moneyline set at +155.
Breaking Down Indiana at Iowa
Indiana On Offense
The first thing we like here is all the positive reports out of Indiana’s camp regarding the health of quarterback Michael Penix. He said this week that he’s 100% healthy after suffering a torn ACL that forced him to miss the second half of the Hoosiers’ 2020 season.
The injury occurred one week after Penix threw for 491 yards and five touchdowns and outplayed current Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields in a near-upset at Ohio State. The Buckeyes squeaked out a 42-35 win, but the Hoosiers gave Ohio State its biggest scare before the eventual title game loss to Alabama.
Penix is also a serious rushing threat and Kirk Ferentz’ Hawkeyes have tended to struggle against mobile quarterbacks and up-tempo offenses throughout the years. They suffered a 24-20 loss to Purdue in the 2020 season opener but ultimately won their last six games behind a strong defensive effort.
The key to slowing a guy like Penix – a strong-armed, pocket passer who also has the ability to create plays on his feet – starts with a great contain from the defensive line. The Hawkeyes return just one of four starters up front and could definitely struggle to keep Penix in the pocket, let alone provide constant pressure.
The Hoosiers also have a deep receiving crew including Ty Fryfogle, who might be the best wideout in the Big Ten this season.
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Indiana On Defense
On the flip side, Indiana’s defense didn’t get enough credit for its impressive turnaround in 2020. While there might have been some luck involved with 20 forced turnovers – including a ridiculous 17 interceptions – it’s clearly the No. 1 focus on a defense with playmakers all over the field and nine returning starters. That includes senior linebacker Micah McFadden, a preseason second-team All-American and Butkus Award contender.
The unit ranked fifth in conference against the run in 2020, and Iowa might have some problems moving the ball – last year featured a pretty one-dimensional attack, with the Hawkeyes finishing 11th in in the Big Ten in passing offense.
The Hawkeyes lost some talent on the offensive line but will likely plug and place just fine with a few younger linemen, like they seem to do every year. However, quarterback Spencer Petras will have a tough time against this secondary and the Hoosiers will be looking to capitalize on every mistake after Petras threw five interceptions last season.
This looks like an excellent matchup for a Hoosiers defense that teed off on middle-of-the-pack offenses last year.
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The Pick: Indiana on the Moneyline
We love the opportunity for Penix to make a big early statement on the road and lead Indiana to the upset win in the season opener. We’re grabbing the odds at +155 at BetMGM right now.