Iowa vs Mississippi State -7 (o/u 43.5)
While a record of 8-4 in the Big Ten looks solid, Iowa had the good fortune of not having to play #6 Ohio State or #7 Michigan. That’s good because they did lose to the only two ranked opponents they played in Penn State and Northwestern. They were simply able to beat up teams in the second echelon. On the offensive side of the ball, they finished mid-pack in the country in most relevant categories. They did manage to score 31.5 PPG behind a well-balanced offense full of good role players. Where the Hawkeyes shined was on defense. They held opponents to 289.6 YPG of total offense (7th in the NCAA) and a stellar 17.4 PPG to finish 11th in the nation for scoring defense.
In what has to be one of the great sports anomalies of all-time, Mississippi State held opponents to an incredible 12 PPG (1st in the nation) and still managed to lose 4 games in the tough SEC to go 8-4 on the season. They also finished 3rd in the country for total defense, giving up under 269 PPG to opponents. Seven times they held opposing offenses to 10 points or less, and that’s playing great defense. It also points to an offense that didn’t offer much in the way of help. The passing game was non-existent, accumulating 175.6 YPG to finish a terrible 227th in the NCAA. The rushing game was credible, finishing 46th in the country behind the efforts of dual-threat QB Nick Fitzgerald who rushed for 1,018 yards and 12 TDs while passing for another 15 TDs.
Prediction: Neither team is capable of putting big points against a good defense. In this game, both offenses are facing great defenses. The linemaker put up a curious 43.5 o/u when all common sense says this is going to be a low-scoring defensive battle. With that said, it’s best to assume the line was a mistake and play the game exactly the way it looks. Play under 43.5