South Dakota State vs. Iowa Odds, Picks, Predictions (9/3/22)

After opening the 2021 season with an FBS win, FCS standout South Dakota State will try its hand at some more success on the national stage against the Big Ten mainstay Iowa. Kirk Ferentz will be on the sidelines for his 24th season as Iowa’s head coach, as the Hawkeyes begin what they fully hope will be their 10th consecutive winning season.

Let’s take a look at the odds and make some picks and predictions for Saturday’s season opener at Kinnick Stadium.

South Dakota State vs. Iowa Odds

Iowa opens as a 15.5-point home favorite against the Jackrabbits, who enter the year ranked 3rd in the FCS. The over/under is set at 44.5 points.

South Dakota State’s track record against FBS opponents since 2015 hasn’t been bad by any stretch. The Jackrabbits beat Kansas 41-38 in 2015, scored 41 in a 2016 loss to TCU, lost to Minnesota by a touchdown in 2019, and cruised past Colorado State on the road last September.

Still, Iowa is not Kansas – nor is it Colorado State, who finished 3-9 in 2021. Kirk Ferentz’s team has flaws on the offensive side of the ball, but not enough to be anything less than a significant favorite in this one.

South Dakota State vs. Iowa Prediction & Pick

My pick: Under 44.5 Points (-110)

Eight of Iowa’s first nine games last season came in under 44.5 points. While the defense faltered a bit later in the year, the unit was sharp early on, allowing no more than 17 points in any of their first five games.

South Dakota State has a capable offense – more than capable by FCS standards – but there is no defense comparable to Iowa’s in the FCS. Led by preseason all-American DB Riley Moss and rising linebacker Jack Campbell, the Hawkeyes will be a tough challenge for a Jackrabbits offense trying to incorporate some new pieces into major roles.

Forecasting an FCS/FBS matchup before any games have been played is risky, but I’m not sure there’s enough offense to go around to get to 45+ points.

South Dakota State vs. Iowa Key Matchups

Check out the key matchups and mismatches for South Dakota State vs Iowa below.

Iowa’s Secondary vs SDSU’s QB Situation

Iowa again has plenty to be excited about on the defensive side of the ball. The Hawkeyes are loaded at the linebacker position, with Campbell and Jestin Jacobs poised for big years. Riley Moss might be the best returning defensive back in the Big Ten, leading a secondary that produces results year in and year out. Already, this game becomes a mismatch.

Iowa allowed more than 24 points just twice last season, the biggest blow being a 42-3 loss to Michigan in the Big Ten title game. While the defense did slip up against Aidan O’Connell and Purdue, there is a huge gap between what Purdue or Michigan is bringing to the table and what any FCS program can do.

South Dakota State lost some major pieces of its offense from last season, including quarterback Chris Oladokun and running back Pierre Strong. Both were Day 3 picks in the NFL Draft, a testament to the strength of the program the Jackrabbits have built.

Enter Mark Gronowski, who will start under center after missing all of 2021 with a torn ACL. Gronowski showed promise in 2020, when he had a 15:3 TD:INT ratio, and we’ve seen nationally-recognized quarterbacks come from top FCS programs before (Trey Lance, Carson Wentz).

Spencer Petras vs Untimely Mistakes

Iowa has some more continuity under center, with quarterback Spencer Petras returning. Offense has long been a weakness for the Hawkeyes, but Petras has struggled so much that he makes C.J. Beathard and Jake Rudock look like they deserve statues in Iowa City. He completed 57.3% of passes for just 1,880 yards, 10 touchdowns, and 9 interceptions last season, losing playing time to Alex Padilla at one point.

You’d have to think he has a short leash this season, but Petras will get the start on Saturday. If what he did was enough to beat Big Ten teams, he probably can do enough to beat South Dakota State.

As usual, the running game will be key for Iowa. The Hawkeyes lost Tyler Goodson and will plug in Gavin Williams as their lead back after he averaged 4.7 yards/carry in part-time work last season. If Williams can keep the offense moving semi-efficiently, Iowa will bank on its defense being able to take care of the rest.

Dan is a lifelong sports fan and graduate of Boston University. He’s covered several sports on Instagram since he was 12 and now writes about everything from betting trends to breaking news for Lineups.

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