Gambling advice isn’t my thing. Maybe it is for my editor, but I generally try to stay away from it. But I’ll tip my toes into the realm of overs and unders for just a moment — and share a futures bet I would make.
To anybody that’s unfamiliar: Before the season sports books release win total benchmarks that customers can bet over or under the book’s win total. For example, FanDuel pegs Michigan at 10.5 wins (-122 O, +100 U). If Michigan wins 11 the over hits, they win less than 10… you get the point.
Let’s revisit Iowa’s entire 2023 regular season schedule:
9/2: vs. Utah State
9/9: @ Iowa State
9/16: vs. Western Michigan
9/23: @ Penn State
9/30: vs. Michigan State
10/7: vs. Purdue
10/14: @ Wisconsin
10/21: vs. Minnesota
11/4: @ Northwestern
11/11: vs. Rutgers
11/18: vs. Illinois
11/24: @ Nebraska
Iowa’s regular season win O/U odds from FanDuel and DraftKings are currently set at 7.5 (-162 O, +132 U) That’s way too low — here’s why.
#1: A drastic dip in Strength of Schedule
Iowa went 7-5 last season with Michigan and Ohio State on the schedule last season. They’ll face neither Big Ten powerhouse this year. There’s only one game on the schedule that looks awfully daunting: Away at Penn State on September 23.
The second toughest? A trip to Camp Randall to face Wisconsin, and Iowa hasn’t gotten a win there since 2015. Those two are genuinely difficult games, and ones Iowa is likely going to head into as underdogs.
The other 10? Let’s talk about those.
#2: 24 years vs. 0
OK, that’s a bit of a stretch, but Kirk Ferentz is going to have a major experience and continuity advantage vs. many of opponents. Three out of nine Big Ten opponents are coaches breaking in their new programs. Ryan Walters replaces Jeff Brohm at Purdue, Matt Rhule is going to try to scrape the ice off of Scott Frost’s old Huskers and Luke Fickell will eventually look to take Wisconsin to the College Football Playoff — like he did with Cincinnati.
Fickell and Rhule are accomplished coaches, but they’re starting from scratch. We all think Bret Bielema’s a great coach right? He started 3-9 at Arkansas and 5-7 in his first year at Illinois in 2021. Furhermore, Rhule started 1-11 at Baylor before elevating them to 11-3 2 years later. Fickell started 4-8 with the Bearcats, and Ryan Walters is a first-time head coach.
Regardless of how you feel about Kirk Ferentz, Iowa not bailing on him and his staff is going to benefit them in the short term. They’re going to have a significant continuity advantage against these opponents in 2023.
#3: Brian Ferentz’ contract revisions
25 points and seven wins. A pay raise and a contract extension. Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz is going to need more results from his unit to keep his job — and they probably will.
A significant upgrade at quarterback, added experience and depth on the o-line, and a coach with his job in jeopardy is going to yield better results in 2023. If you take out the 54-10 beatdown against Ohio State, all of Iowa’s four losses in 2022 were within one possession. A unit that’s destined to improve off of a miserable season is going to win more than the seven they did last year.
#4: Home sweet Kinnick & handling business
There’s a very real chance Iowa goes 7-0 at home this year. And if they do, one away win would get you to eight.
Let’s not waste time discussing Utah State and Western Michigan. Let’s jump straight to the Big Ten foes — and some in-state revenge.
Michigan State is fading quickly from their 2021 Cinderella season — Vegas has their O/U set at 5.5 ahead of the season. Iowa beat Purdue on the road last season, and we have yet to see if Ryan Walters can be the thorn in Iowa’s side that Jeff Brohm was for many years.
Rutgers is terrible. Kirk has yet to lose to P.J. Fleck’s Gophers — which makes Iowa’s toughest home game of the season against former Hawkeye Bret Bielema’s Fighting Illini, who lost a number of key pieces from his 8-5 2022 team.
And yes, Iowa lost the Cy-Hawk series for the first time since 2014. They won’t score seven points this time around, they’ll take care of business against them in Ames.
#5: This team is really good
Easy schedule, first year head coaches, favorable matchups — whatever. The 2023 Iowa Hawkeyes are going to be really good. Phil Parker’s elite defense combined with an improved offense should make this team viable to win 10 or more games.
I’ll make a prediction right now: Iowa will win 10 games and be an AP Top 25 team from start to finish like they did in 2021.
If you’re into betting or if you want to get into betting, this is an easy one: Iowa’s going to win at least eight games in 2023.
For more Hawkeyes coverage, follow @HawkeyeHQ on Twitter and Facebook.