Iowa started the season a red hot 6-0. However, the underlying metrics tell a different story for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa had a worse success rate than Iowa State, Kent State and Maryland in wins. They beat Iowa State by 10 points with the help of a +4 turnover margin. Despite this turnover margin, Iowa State had more yards and a higher yards per play. Similarly, the 37 point margin of victory over Maryland was in large part due to a +7 turnover margin.
Iowa almost had a worse success rate than Colorado State and Penn State. In the latter game, Penn State QB Sean Clifford got injured in the first half and never returned. The back up QB had 34 passing yards, 23 if you subtract yards lost on sacks.
Maybe Penn State needs to trade for Joe Flacco as insurance at QB like the Jets did this week.
Iowa has been overrated all season, and the problem is the offense. They rank 109th in my adjusted success rate, a bottom 25 FBS unit. While QB Spencer Petras had a strong second half against Penn State in leading a comeback win, he has been poor overall this season.
Wisconsin has had a 4-3 season, but my numbers still like this team. They had a chance to beat Penn State in the opener. They got throttled by Notre Dame because of four interceptions, but they had more yards in that game.
QB Graham Mertz has struggled this season, but Wisconsin still has a better offense than Iowa. The Badgers rank 54th in my adjusted success rate.
The rush attack has improved the past three games, and now the Badgers rank 34th in my adjusted rushing success rate. The passing game is not as good at 84th in my numbers.
My model likes Wisconsin by 6.3 points. As much as Wisconsin has struggled, the adjusted metrics from this season only (points, success rate, yards per play) predict a 7.6 point Wisconsin win.
There are a few reasons to stay away from this game. First, you might not believe in Mertz. I understand.
Second, this game does feature two excellent defenses (Wisconsin 2nd, Iowa 8th by my adjusted success rate). My model predicts a score of Wisconsin 19.8 to Iowa 13.5. A low scoring game means it’s harder for Wisconsin to cover a larger point spread like 4 or 5.
Iowa got stomped by Purdue in their last game, and I thought the market might adjust. However, the numbers imply value in Wisconsin -3.
Football betting with a PhD edge
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