Nebraska vs Iowa Odds

Iowa is looking to win its second straight Big Ten West title and eighth straight game against rival Nebraska when it hosts the Cornhuskers on Saturday.

Iowa clinched a 13-10 win in Minneapolis last week, helped by some key fourth-quarter turnover. The path is now very simple for Iowa:

  • Win and head to Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship.
  • Lose and hope for a lot of help.

Iowa has one of the best defenses in the country, but offense must be effective against one of the worst defenses in the Big Ten for the Hawkeyes to win.

This season couldn’t have gone worse for Nebraska as they sit at 3-8. It scared Wisconsin quite a bit last weekend, but the Badgers scored a late field goal to win 15-14.

It’s been a long time since Nebraska has beaten Iowa, and since joining the Big Ten it has won just three wins over rival Heroes Game.

Cornhuskers offense

Nebraska’s offense has underperformed this season, ranking 73rd in the success rate and 64th in the EPA/Play.

Casey Thompson returned from injury against Wisconsin, but Nebraska’s offense still struggled as it gained just 3.5 yards per game.

Thompson has played decently for Nebraska this season despite his terrible record. He averages 8.6 yards per attempt to keep up with a 79.3 PFF passing grade and 20 great throws.

The problem with Thompson is that he was a little loose with the ball because he’s already thrown 10 interceptions and has 15 turnover-worthy plays. That’s not going to help when you’re up against that Iowa defense.

Nebraska has really struggled to lead the ball this season. Anthony Grant averages just 4.5 yards per carry, while Nebraska ranks 84th in rushing success rate and 80th in EPA/Rush.

Mohamed Ibrahim and Minnesota ran the ball across Iowa last weekend, so the Cornhuskers need to be successful locally if they want any chance of victory.

Cornhuskers Defense

Nebraska’s defense is the reason for the 3-8 this season.

The Cornhuskers allow 5.6 yards per game with ranks of 126th in success rate and 94th in EPA/Play Allowed.

The front seven did a poor job of stopping the run. It allows 4.5 yards per carry while ranking 126th in rushing success rate allowed and 116th in defensive line yards. Running the ball is really the only way Iowa has found offensive success this season, so Nebraska better be prepared to stop the run or this could get ugly.

The secondary was just as bad. Nebraska has allowed 7.3 yards per attempt and ranks 105th in allowed success rate and 87th in coverage percentage per PFF.

The Huskers were also pretty average at generating pass rushes, which is a key key against Spencer Petras and that poor Iowa offensive line.

Hawkeyes offense

Iowa’s offense is one of the worst in the Power Five but has improved in the second half of the season.

The Hawkeyes averaged 4.7 yards per game against Northwestern, Purdue, Wisconsin and Minnesota after averaging under four yards per game in the previous three games.

Although the offensive only 13 points against the Gophers, they still averaged 5.4 yards per game

Spencer Petras has been bad this season, but it’s not like he’s been terrible in every single game. He posted an 82+ PFF passing grade and averaged over 7.2 yards per pass attempt against Rutgers, Michigan and Northwestern. Against Minnesota last weekend, he averaged 9.2 yards per attempt and a 74.2 PFF passing grade.

However, the reason Iowa’s offense has struggled isn’t because of Petras. His biggest Achilles heel was the offensive line.

The unit ranks 130th in pass blocking, and Petras was under pressure with 36.9% of dropbacks, which is the ninth-highest mark in college football for quarterbacks with at least 100 dropbacks. The good news for Iowa is that Nebraska has a very average pass rush.

Iowa’s running game has come to life in recent weeks with the emergence of freshman Kaleb Johnson.

Johnson has averaged 6.0 yards per carry in his past four games and rushed for 200 yards against Purdue two weeks ago. He should have no problem running the ball effectively against that poor Nebraska front seven.

Hawkeyes Defense

Iowa has the best defensive grade in college football at 93.9 per PFF. The Hawkeyes are one of only two teams in college football to concede under 4.0 yards per play.

However, Iowa allowed Minnesota to run all over the place last week with 312 yards and 6.2 yards per carry.

But Nebraska’s ground attack doesn’t come close to Minnesota’s, and Iowa’s run defense this season has been outstanding overall. The Hawkeyes are 13th in defensive line yards, second in rush allowed, and 8th in EPA/rush allowed

It helps when a team has one of the best linebacking duos in the country in Jack Campbell and Seth Benson, both of whom are in the top 10 defensive grades among linebackers according to the PFF.

Iowa also boasts the best secondary in the country, as the unit allows just 5.3 yards per attempt for opposing quarterbacks and has the No. 1 coverage rating in the nation per PFF.

So it’s going to be a long day for Thompson if Nebraska’s rushing attack can’t get off the ground.

Iowa also has one of the nation’s best punters in Tory Taylor, who has put down 28 punts inside the 20-yard line (third most in FBS). Opposing returners only average 3.9 yards per punt return.

Nebraska vs. Iowa Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdown menus below to hide or show how Nebraska and Iowa statistically match:

Nebraska Offense vs. Iowa Defense

Iowa Offense vs. Nebraska Defense

Game pace / Miscellaneous
PFF tackle 41 6
PFF cover 87 1
SP+ special teams 84 6
seconds per game 25.0 (36) 28.9 (112)
rush rate 55.3% (57) 56.1% (46)
Data from (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Nebraska vs Iowa Betting Tip

I know the Iowa offense has been really bad this season, but it’s improved over the past four weeks. Now it’s up against a rotten Nebraska defense.

If last weekend’s game against Wisconsin was any indication of how this Nebraska offense will play against the Big Ten’s best defense, well… it’s going to be a long day for the Cornhuskers.

I projected Iowa at -13.2 so I think the Hawkeyes are a little valuable at -10.5.

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