Iowa Hawkeyes Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
Iowa is in a very tough spot. They are the sixth-best team in a five-team conference - and those five teams ahead of them are all potentially going to be extremely good this year. Iowa isn't alone in having this problem, but they have been in some version of this spot often enough that they know how lonely of a place it can be. It could be worse, though - they could be Illinois, Rutgers, Maryland, Indiana or another of the Big Ten programs that are so consistently bad that even reaching the second tier that Iowa has had as a floor to their performance for years seems like an unattainable goal.
2017 in a Nutshell
The 2017 season went pretty much like you would expect an Iowa season to go these days. They beat up on most of the teams they should - their two weak nonconference opponents, and struggling conference foes like Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska. They beat rival Iowa State as well. They lost a head scratcher against Purdue, and they lost to Penn State, Michigan State, and Wisconsin in results that felt inevitable. They lost to Northwestern, too. But then they pulled off the kind of miracle they seem good for every couple of years, not just beating Ohio State but rolling up the sixth-ranked team in the country by 31 points. Add it all up and you had a 7-5 team with a marquee win. That was good enough to earn them a date in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium against Boston College, and they won that to cap off the season. Highs and lows, and not nearly as much consistency as you would like - it's the Kirk Ferentz trademark.
Key Additions and Departures
There are some notable changes on this roster. The team has lost their two best defensive players - both corner Josh Jackson and linebacker Josey Jewell were drafted. Both were first team All-Americans, and it was an open debate over which one of the two was the team's best player. The other three top linebackers are gone as well. Strong safety Amani Hooker has a chance to be the next defensive star for this team, but the pressure will be on him. The defensive line returns three starters and has the chance to be the best it has been in years.
On offense they have stability at starting QB in junior Nate Stanley, but his top two backups have left the program, so if he gets hurt they will be dealing with raw talent. Highly-underrated running back Akrum Wadley is gone, and so is second-best rusher James Butler. Most of the running game will be in new hands, but they have some talent. They also added Mekhi Sargent, who put up video game numbers in junior college last year, which should help. The offensive line lost center James Daniels in the draft, but they were mostly a young unit last year, so they should be better this year despite the key loss because of the added experience.
This year's recruiting class was much like most except for 2017 in recent years in that it lacks big stars, but the Hawkeyes have had a knack for developing three-star guys in to megastars.
Biggest Area of Concern
It has to be at linebacker, where they are losing their heart and soul along with most of the experience who would normally step up and replace a guy like that. Iowa isn't the most progressive defensive team, so linebackers have a traditional level of importance in the schemes, and these changes could be a big problem.
Iowa Hawkeyes Schedule Analysis
The team opens up with two very winnable nonconference games and the traditional matchup with Iowa State that should be as competitive as it usually is. They have three very winnable conference games against Indiana, Maryland and Illinois, and games they should win against Minnesota, Purdue and Nebraska as well. And Northwestern at home is manageable as well. That is 10 games that the team could take advantage of if they are any good. A lot of teams would like that fate. They also avoid Michigan. Michigan State and Ohio State this year, which is never a bad thing. The only tough games are hosting Wisconsin and travelling to Penn State. They will need a miracle like they got against Ohio State last year to win one of those games, but the schedule still sets up for the team to improve on their win total of last year if they can fill their holes in a hurry.
2018-19 Iowa Hawkeyes Betting Odds and Trends
Iowa is tied with Nebraska as the sixth choice to win the Big Ten at +4000 at Bovada and the second choice to win the Big Ten West, again tied with Nebraska, at +1000. They are far behind Wisconsin at -240, though. At +40000 to win the national title they are obviously seen as far from a true contender. The season win total sits at 7.5, with the "under" slightly favored.
2018-19 Iowa Hawkeyes Predictions and College Football Picks
I like the "over" on the season win total here. They have some issues, but the talent is decent, and the offense should be improved. The schedule is soft, and eight or nine wins feels like the most reasonable outcome.
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