Iowa vs. Maryland: Betting Odds, Picks, and Predictions (10/1/21)

Iowa vs. Maryland Betting Odds 

Does anyone remember the last time Iowa football was ranked in the top 5?

It was Week 12 of the 2015 season. With C.J. Beathard under center, the Hawkeyes ripped off 12 straight wins to begin that season before falling to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship game and then losing to Stanford in the Rose Bowl.

But back to this decade. Iowa is 4-0 straight up (SU) and 3-1 against the spread (ATS). They have a dominant defense that completely shut down Indiana and Iowa State.

However, they’re running into the best quarterback they’ve faced yet. Taulia Tagovailoa – Tua’s younger brother – is having a heck of a season so far. He’s led his team to a 4-0 record as well, with wins over West Virginia and Illinois. The Terps are also 3-1 ATS through four weeks.

The last time these two met was in 2018 when Iowa shut out Maryland on their way to a 23-0 victory. The Hawkeyes opened as 4.5-point favorites, but the line has been pushed down to 3.5.

So, can Taulia lead his terps to a victory as a home underdog? Or will the top-5 Hawkeyes continue to roll?

Let’s dig into this matchup.

Iowa Hawkeyes Odds

Iowa’s a top 20 defense by most advanced metrics. However, there are a few meaningful metrics where they’re top five.

That starts with points per game allowed, where Iowa’s 11.0 PPG/A ranks third in the FBS. While they can have some efficiency issues, the Hawkeyes don’t break, as they rank fifth in Defense Predicted Points Added.

PFF also grades the defense very high, third in the nation overall. They’re PFF’s third highest-graded coverage defense, and they rank 10th in the nation in Passing Defense Explosiveness.

The secondary is great, where Matt Hankins and Riley Moss make up two of PFF’s top 10 coverage corners. As such, the Hawkeyes avoid big plays on defense and keep everything in front of them.

But, like most Big Ten football teams, the offense could use some work. Iowa ranks outside the top 100 in Predicted Points Added and Offense Success Rate. Quarterback Spencer Petras does nothing special, completing less than 60% of his passes with a 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The Hawkeyes can’t create explosive plays downfield. Petras averages only 6.6 yards per attempt while the offense rushes for only 3.3 yards per carry.

But, if they continue to play this high level of defense, perhaps it won’t matter.

Maryland Terrapins Odds

The jump that Tagovailoa has made cannot be overstated.

In a shortened 2020, Tagovailoa completed barely 60% of his passes while making five Big Time Throws to nine Turnover Worthy Plays. As a result, he finished with a lackluster 7:7 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

This season, he’s PFF’s third highest-graded quarterback, completing 75% of his throws with no Turnover Worthy Plays. Meanwhile, he’s made 11 Big Time Throws through just four games while tossing for 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns in the process.

As such, Maryland has a top 10 offense in terms of Passing Success Rate. It doesn’t even matter that Maryland is 43rd in Offensive Line Yards, because he’s completed 79.8% of his passes when being blitzed.

But, behind this questionable offensive line, the rushing game hasn’t been quite as successful. Despite Tayon Fleet-Davis rushing for over seven yards per carry, the whole backfield has posted just 4.5 yards per carry. Meanwhile, the offense ranks outside the top 30 in Rushing Success Rate.

The defense has been above average, particularly in the passing game. However, they have managed to keep points off the board, ranking eighth in points per game allowed (14.2) and 13th in Defense Predicted Points Added.

Prediction and Pick

My pick: Maryland +3.5

Iowa just hasn’t faced a quarterback like Taulia yet. I think Michael Penix is way overrated, while Brock Purdy sucks until October hits.

I believe Tagovailoa will have some success against this defense, especially when Iowa might be looking ahead to their battle with No. 6 Penn State next week.

Meanwhile, I wouldn’t trust the Iowa offense to get much going. Iowa could have some success on the ground, but the Maryland secondary is slightly underrated and Petras can’t drive the ball down the field.

The hope for Iowa is they cause Havoc and maybe force the Terps offense into some turnovers. But that just hasn’t happened for Tagovailoa yet, and I don’t expect it to in this game.

I love Maryland as a home underdog in this spot. If they don’t win outright, I think they’ll have a great chance to cover the number.

Tanner joined Lineups to cover everything, but he has vast experience in, and unlimited passion for, Major League Baseball and NCAA Basketball. He’s a McGill University grad and former (Canadian) Division-I alpine ski racer who now spends his time drinking beer and betting home underdogs. Patrick Mahomes is a poor man’s Tom Brady.

Hot College Football Stories