NCAAF Week 8 Top Picks for Iowa vs. Ohio State

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Miyan Williams #3 of the Ohio State Buckeyes runs with the ball during the first quarter of a game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Ben Jackson/Getty Images/AFP.

The Ohio State Buckeyes might be the best team in college. They certainly belong in Saturday’s NCAAF picks against the Iowa Hawkeyes.

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Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Ohio State Buckeyes

Saturday, October 22, 2022 – 12:00 PM EDT at Ohio Stadium

It’s like that old car rental commercial: When you’re No. 2, you try harder.

The Ohio State Buckeyes (6-0 SU, 3-2-1 ATS) may be second to Georgia in the minds of the AP writers and the AFCA coaches, but they’re No. 1 on the F+ rankings at Football Outsiders, and the SP+ rankings, and the Simple Rating System charts at Sports Reference. I could go on.

You’ll have to look a bit farther down the list to find the Iowa Hawkeyes (3-3 SU and ATS). They’re No. 30 overall according to F+, which is still pretty good, but as they prepare to face Ohio State this Saturday, the Hawkeyes are massive 29-point road dogs on the NCAAF odds board at Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review).

Don’t let all that chalk scare you. The Buckeyes are the right team for your college football picks, and they might even be worth sizing your bet up to two units. Shall we throw in a totals wager while we’re at it? Maybe a smaller bet on Under 49 at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review), just for funsies.

What Makes Ohio State No. 1?

It starts with their offense, which also ranks No. 1 overall according to F+. The Buckeyes are fortunate to have quarterback C.J. Stroud back on campus for his sophomore season, after Stroud was named a Heisman Trophy finalist last year.

Now he’s the +110 favorite at top-rated sportsbooks to take home the hardware, with 24 touchdown passes and just three picks after six games. Stroud has also been sacked just four times, which speaks to the strength of his veteran offensive line.

And at the other skill positions, Ohio State delivers a lethal 1-2 punch both at running back (Miyan Williams, TreVeyon Henderson) and wideout (Marvin Harrison Jr, Emeka Egbuka).

Upgraded Defense

These will all be household names in the NFL before too long. Don’t sleep on that Buckeyes defense, though. This is where the team has made its biggest improvements over last year, moving up from No. 31 to No. 8 on the F+ charts.

The arrival of defensive coordinator Jim Knowles has paid instant dividends; switching to the 4-2-5 base has done wonders against the run, where OSU are giving up a mere 2.97 yards per attempt, down from 3.68 last year.

Will Iowa Score Any Touchdowns Against the Buckeyes?

Maybe not. The Hawkeyes have the No. 2 defense in the nation behind Georgia, but at the other end of the field, they rank No. 103 according to F+.

That’s even worse than last year, when Iowa won 10 games and went to the Big Ten title game despite their offense ranking No. 92 in the FBS.

Blame QB Spencer Petras (two TDs, three INTs) if you want, but he doesn’t have a lot to work with here.

The offensive line is even worse than last year’s after the departure of center Tyler Linderbaum (now with the Baltimore Ravens), and the running game is stuck in the mud without Tyler Goodson (now with the Green Bay Packers).

Bad Numbers

Combine that futility with Iowa’s stout defense, and it’s no wonder they’ve got the Under at 5-1 this year. It’s also why we’re considering the Under here even though the Buckeyes (Over 4-2) are favored by 29 of those 49 points in the total.

No need to fear, though: Jeff Sagarin at The USA Today projects these two teams to combine for a paltry 31.25 points. Then again, Sagarin “only” has Ohio State winning by anywhere between 19 and 26 points, depending on which of his projections you look at.

FiveThirtyEight have the Buckeyes winning 93% of the time, for a fair moneyline of -1328 according to the virtuous BMR's Odds Converter. That’s about the same as a spread of -22, using the college football numbers at Wizard of Odds.

We did say we’d be straying from these projections from time to time. It’s supposed to be a reasonably nice afternoon at the Horseshoe, so there isn’t much aside from Iowa’s defense to put a lid on Stroud.

Hawkeyes vs. Buckeyes Final Analysis

While the Hawkeyes have plenty of stopping power, they’ve faced one of the softest schedules in the Big Ten thus far. There are other ways to make money on the college football odds board.

Instead of hitting up the Under, which only has a smidge of betting value as it is, let’s hedge our spread bet on the Buckeyes by adding a Winning Margin prop from Bovada: Ohio State by 19-24 points (+550).

In fact, let’s put one unit on that, one unit on Ohio State winning by 25-30 (+425), and two units on the spread. Cheer for them to win by exactly 30 points, profit anyway if they fall a bit short, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

NCAAF Pick: Ohio State by 19-24 Points (+550) at Bovada

NCAAF Pick: Ohio State by 25-30 (+425) at Bovada

NCAAF Pick: Ohio State -29 (-108) at Heritage Sports

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Ohio State -29 (-108)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.