Rivalry games are the best part of college football and there’s one I’m feeling this Saturday.
The Iowa Hawkeyes head to Ames to face the Iowa State Cyclones for the Cy-Hawk Trophy. The Cyclones opened as a three-point favorite at Circa Sports with a point total of O/U 48.5. Less than two minutes after the lines hit the market Sunday afternoon, “sharp money” showed for Iowa State.
Respected bettors made early positions on the Cyclones, so Circa immediately moved the line from -3 to -4. It was a very telling move against an Iowa squad that just walloped Indiana 34-6 over the weekend. Also, Iowa State didn’t look that special against Northern Iowa as a 28-point favorite.
So why the move against the Hawkeyes?
Mostly because Iowa was horribly mispriced against Indiana. The Hoosiers had a pretty strong campaign in 2020 and that clouded a lot of judgment heading into the season opener. Bettors couldn’t help themselves, taking Indiana +5.5 all the way down to +3.5, while not paying enough attention to Indiana quarterback Michael Penix Jr.’s recovery from ACL surgery.
Penix could barely move in the pocket and the Hawkeyes dropped coverage all afternoon, daring him to take off and run the football. He never looked comfortable facing pressure and forced a bunch of throws en route to a 14-of-31 passing performance with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Yikes.
“We wrote a ton of bets on Indiana,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews told NESN. “We really needed Iowa to take care of business and they did. It was a good decision for the house.”
Iowa is shaping up to be a public underdog this week, with over 80 percent of the early bets on the Hawkeyes at multiple shops. Yet the market is still moving away from them. That’s because Iowa is in for a real test against a much better offense, a very good offensive line and a quarterback who can actually move.
Iowa State ran one of the most vanilla offenses you’ll see in its opener and I have absolutely no issue laying this small number at home. Cyclones head coach Matt Campbell is one of the best in the business and his upper-class backfield of Brock Purdy and Breece Hall will be tough to contain.
Now is the time to strike on the Cyclones, who are undervalued at the current number.
You can still find -4 at several sportsbooks, although more and more 4.5’s are starting to pop. This is a very good opportunity to buy low on a Top 10 college football team at home against a rival that comes in a little inflated in the market due to last week’s performance.
Iowa State -4 (-110)
RECORD: (48-44, -0.2)