Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 7:00 AM
Saturday’s college football schedule isn’t exactly a blockbuster. But, there as a game in the 3:30 p.m. ET TV window that’s “sneaky” big in terms of its potential impact on what happens down the road. That’s the Big 10 matchup between Wisconsin and Iowa. How did THIS game suddenly become important?
*Wisconsin will play in the Big 10 Championship game against Ohio State if they win out. The Buckeyes need another big win to vault them into the Final Four…so they NEED Wisconsin to look great this week against Iowa and next week against Minnesota. It’s already clear now that Ohio State is going to be on the bubble unless they suffer a stunning collapse against either Indiana or Michigan. If Wisconsin loses to Iowa…the Big 10’s hopes to crash the party take another major blow. If Wisconsin continues to impress…then Wiscy/OSU is going to be a huge TV event that just might launch the league into a huge paycheck.
*Melvin Gordon rushed for 408 yards last week against Nebraska, setting an all-time single game record for most yards on the ground. And, he didn’t even play in the fourth quarter! That vaulted the superstar running back to just over 1,900 yards rushing this season. Barring an injury, he’s a shoe-in to soar past 2,000 yards. If Gordon has more big games in him…he could rally late to win the Heisman Trophy over current favorite Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
A few weeks ago, Wisconsin/Iowa was barely on the November radar. Not with all the great matchups across the country that would directly impact the championship chase. Now, it’s suddenly a huge “indirect” factor in that chase…while also looming not so subtly over Heisman Trophy voting. And it means you have something to watch Saturday afternoon!
You’re going to watch…so let’s see if JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats will help you win…
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
Wisconsin: 8-2 (#65 schedule in USA Today)
Iowa: 7-3 (#64 schedule in USA Today)
The Badgers have already lost twice (neutral site to LSU and a shocker at Northwestern), so there’s no way they can crash the Final Four party even if they run the table. Too many good two-loss teams would be out there. And, a loss to LSU just puts the Badgers behind all the SEC West teams who finished ahead of LSU in the standings. But, a conference championship and a major bowl appearance are on tap if they keep winning and knock off Ohio State. We can certainly expect to see Wiscy playing at least on New Year’s Day in one of the early kicks given their current form. The records and schedule ranks are fairly comparable above though, which gives the Hawkeyes a chance as a home underdog.
Wisconsin: 7.2 on offense, 4.1 on defense
Iowa: 5.4 on offense, 4.9 on defense
Wisconsin really piles on the yardage when things are going well. That creates some illusions about their true power. You have to be impressed with +3.1 yards-per-play! Ask LSU and Northwestern if they’re impressed. Contain Howard…and you have a chance to hang with Wiscy. Iowa has the stats of a grinder team…one that has a chance to compete given that stellar defensive mark. Edge to Wisconsin…but not by as much as those stats would first suggest given what usually happens to “run up the stats” teams like the Badgers against quality.
Disappointing marks for both. And, a big reason why you can’t take Wisconsin seriously as a national power. They’ve played too weak a schedule to have that poor a differential. They’re a one-dimensional team that becomes mistake-prone if you take away that dimension. Iowa’s in the same boat, and will be hoping to keep things boring and close through the afternoon Saturday.
Wisconsin: 5-5 ATS
Iowa: 5-5 ATS
Speaking of boring and close. Neither team has established superiority to market expectations. But, both teams are good enough to get the job done about half the time.
Current Line: Wisconsin by 10, total of 51.5
Wisconsin is the ROAD team here. So, that’s a HUGE difference in the perceptions of teams right now. The Badgers are getting a lot of respect after crushing Nebraska last week 59-24. Should they really be the equivalent of -13 at a neutral site or -16 at home over a grinder like Iowa? Handicappers will have to determine if this will be a field position game where points are at a relative premium. Or, if Iowa has a chance to man up at the point of attack in a way that keeps them within striking distance.
JIM HURLEY may or may not release this game to his clients on Saturday. There are a lot of great opportunities on the board even if there aren’t a lot of marquee matchups this week. That floats right into the wheelhouse of NETWORK’S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach! We’ll find the BEST BETS so YOU get the money!
Build your bankrolls Friday Night with the best from college football and the NBA. Then visit Saturday for some of the biggest releases this season. It’s easy to purchase BIG, JUICY WINNERS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155 during normal business hours Friday or before the first kickoffs on Saturday.
Back with you tomorrow for one more college football preview. Then it’s five straight days of NFL that will take you through this weekend’s prime time action AND the great Turkey Day feast.
Saturday: College Preview…USC at UCLA on ABC
Sunday: NFL Preview…Dallas at NY Giants on NBC
Monday: NFL Preview…Baltimore at New Orleans on ESPN
Tuesday thru Thursday: Previews of the historically strong Thanksgiving card in the NFL, with one day each devoted to Chicago/Detroit, Philadelphia/Dallas, and Seattle/San Francisco!
Big 10…big game…big money…and the biggest name in football handicapping, JIM HURLEY!
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