Iowa vs Iowa State Odds, Picks, and Predictions: Can Either Offense Push This Total?

Iowa and Iowa State have traditionally played to low scores, but the total for this Week 2 rivalry showdown suggests some life to the offenses. Should it be believed? Our college football picks break it down.

Last Updated: Sep 9, 2023 11:57 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Iowa Hawkeyes NCAAF
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The Iowa Hawkeyes aim to avenge last season’s loss to their in-state rivals as they travel to face the Iowa State Cyclones on Saturday.

The Hawkeyes (1-0) kicked off their 2023 campaign with a 24-14 victory over the Utah State Aggies last weekend. The Cyclones were similarly successful, notching a 30-9 victory over the Northern Iowa Panthers. 

The college football odds for this game set the total at just 36.5 points, as both teams have been offensively challenged as of late. We’ll examine whether they can turn that trend around in our free college football picks and predictions for Iowa vs. Iowa State on Saturday, September 9.

Iowa vs Iowa State best odds

Iowa vs Iowa State picks and predictions

Last year’s matchup between these teams was notable for two things. First, Iowa State managed to win for the first time since 2014, and did so on Iowa’s home turf. Secondly, the two teams combined for just 17 points in the 10-7 Cyclones victory. 

That’s nothing new for these teams. The Iowa vs. Iowa State matchup has only hit the over once in the last eight meetings, and the squads have combined for 35 points or less in three of the last four contests. Iowa ranked 117th in scoring offense last year, averaging just 18.6 points against FBS competition. The Cyclones were even worse, at 18.2 points per game. 

It’s hard to imagine that anything is going to change dramatically in 2023. The Hawkeyes offense could benefit from the transfer of Michigan Wolverines quarterback Cade McNamara. In 2021, McNamara was good enough to lead Michigan to a Big Ten title, though even then he only threw for 15 touchdowns. His first game in Iowa was solid, as he went 17-for-30 with two touchdowns. 

Yet that was still only enough for the Hawkeyes to score a 24-14 win against a mid-major opponent. The running game struggled for just 88 yards against Utah State, and it will be even harder to find production on the ground against the Cyclones this week.

Iowa State will be starting redshirt freshman Rocco Becht behind center. In his first college start last weekend, he threw for just 113 yards on 13 attempts, though he did tally two touchdowns against Northern Iowa. 

Those two mediocre performances against middling competition don’t inspire confidence in the offenses producing much on Saturday. Both teams also feature capable defensive units. Iowa State defensive back Jeremiah Cooper won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week, as he picked off two passes — one for a touchdown — in the win over Northern Iowa. Meanwhile, Iowa is coming off a year in which it finished third nationally in scoring defense, allowing just 14.2 points per game against FBS competition. 

This is a game in which defense should dominate, and neither team has the offensive talent to break through on a consistent basis. Improvements on both sides might allow these teams to exceed the paltry 17 points they combined to score last year. However, that’s a far cry from the 36.5-point total that oddsmakers have set for this game.

If either team scores even a couple of touchdowns in this game, they’ll be a massive favorite to win. I’m taking the Under.

My best bet: Under 36.5 (-110 at FanDuel)

Iowa vs Iowa State same-game parlay

Under 36.5
Iowa ML
Cade McNamara Under 194.5 passing yards

Points are going to be hard to come by. That makes it easy to find some selections for a same-game parlay that may not correlate, but give us significant value as bettors.

First, we’ll stick with the Under at 36.5 points, as that number will be difficult for these two offenses to exceed. In what should be a low-scoring game, I like the Hawkeyes to win outright, as they have more talent from top to bottom than Iowa State, so I’m throwing in an Iowa moneyline bet.

Finally, let’s take McNamara to come in Under 194.5 yards passing. The truth is that McNamara won’t have to do a whole lot against a solid Iowa State secondary to win this game. With a safety-first approach, I expect him to come in under his yardage total.

Learn how to bet a same-game parlay with these helpful tips and strategies.

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Iowa vs Iowa State spread and Over/Under analysis

The line on Saturday’s game opened with Iowa as a four-point favorite. That number has bounced around a bit, and you can now find anywhere from Iowa -3.5 to Iowa -4.5 at various books. This makes line shopping important: You can get -110 on Iowa at -3.5, or -110 on Iowa State at +4.5. 

Both teams are coming off wins over mid-major competition, but those results meant different things for each side. The Hawkeyes failed to cover against Utah State, while the Cyclones are now 1-0 against the spread to start the season. 

The fact that I don’t expect much scoring in this matchup has me leaning towards taking Iowa State and the points. It’s not my favorite bet here: I expect Iowa to find a way to win this one, and I’d rather just take them on the moneyline to be safe. But, if you’re going to play the spread, the Cyclones and the points are probably the way to go. You might even bet them at +3.5 just to improve your odds slightly.

The total on this matchup opened at 36.5 points. That’s still the consensus Over/Under, and you’ll find it to be the main line at most books. You’ll be able to find -110 on either side of this market at virtually every site. 

This may come as a shock, but both teams hit the Under last week. That comes after a 2022 campaign in which the Under went 4-9 when Iowa played, and 3-9 when Iowa State took the field.

Yes, these two teams have trouble scoring, and they tend to play to even lower totals against each other. In the last four matchups, the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes have failed to even total 20 points. I made this my best bet for a reason: Take the Under, as neither team is sporting an offense that should change these trends, especially with the talent both schools have on the defensive side of the ball.

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Iowa vs Iowa State betting trend to know

The Under is 4-0 in the last four matchups between Iowa and Iowa State. Find more college football betting trends for Iowa vs Iowa State.

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Iowa vs Iowa State game info

Location: Jack Trice Stadium, Ames, IA
Date: Saturday, September 9, 2023
Kickoff: 3:30 p.m. ET

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