Iowa (+7.5) (-110) over LSU
The Hawkeyes are making their eleventh consecutive bowl appearance under Kirk Ferentz, who is one of the best coaches in college football. Ferentz is 6-4 SU and 7-3 ATS in bowl games despite being an underdog in nine of those ten contests. And, while the betting public will underestimate the Hawkeyes due to their 8-4 record, that is a big mistake as those four losses came against teams with a combined record of 45-6. Let’s also note that SEC bowl favorites of -4.5 or more points are a money-burning 1-7 ATS versus Big Ten Conference opponents off a SU and ATS win.
Iowa’s success is predicated upon an outstanding defense that is allowing 18.7 points per game at 3.5 yards per rush play, 5.8 yards per pass attempt and 4.6 yards per play. Overall, the Hawkeyes are 1.2 yards per rush play, 0.9 yards per pass play and 1,2 yards per play better than average defensively, which is good enough to slow down a potent LSU attack that is missing starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger. Mettenberger has been projected as an early-round draft choice after throwing for 22 touchdowns and finishing within 266 passing yards of Rohan Davey’s single-season school record of 3,348 yards. Moreover, Mettenberger’s 179.2 passer rating was third nationally, trailing only Florida State’s Jameis Winston and Baylor’s Bryce Petty.
Iowa has demonstrated over the last two decades that it is capable of competing against teams with explosive offenses as evidenced by the fact that the Hawkeyes are 32-16 ATS versus teams averaging more than 5.8 yards per play. The bedrock of Iowa’s defense is linebackers Anthony Hitchens, James Morris and Christian Kirksey, all of whom rank among the Big Ten’s top 10 tacklers. I also like the fact that Morris tied for second in the nation among linebackers with four interceptions. Finally, motivation seems to favor Iowa has the Tigers had bigger plans before suffering late-season losses to Mississippi and Alabama. “It’s a great opportunity for us. We had a pretty good regular season and we want to finish strong with a good game against a good opponent,” said running back Mark Weisman. “You get to play a very good team, that’s what you want in college football. You want to play good competition in a bowl game.”
My math model only favors LSU by five points and the Hawkeyes apply to a very strong 43-6-1 ATS bowl situation of mine that invests on certain teams off three or more consecutive wins. Iowa also possesses excellent special teams, which is extremely important in what is expected to be a competitive game. Grab the generous points and invest with confidence.