There’s no rest for the wicked coming into the week 1 Indiana at Iowa contest. Both the Hoosiers and Hawkeyes have expectations to be atop the Big Ten at years end, but they get thrown into the fire against each other right away in the season and conference opener.
The Hawkeyes are -3.5 favorites as they try to avoid the slow start that doomed them last season. Indiana on the other hand is trying to bring QB Michael Penix, Jr. back into the fold after he tore his ACL late in 2020. That’s not an easy task in Iowa City where fans are back at full capacity and against a defense that was #2 in the Big Ten a year ago.
All About Penix Health
Priority #1 and #1A this season for Tom Allen is keeping their All Big-Ten QB Michael Penix, Jr. healthy. Penix tore his ACL in the penultimate regular season game last year against Maryland, finishing with 14 TDs to 4 INT in six games. The Hoosiers are 10-2 the last two years with Penix, Jr. in the lineup, but 4-5 without him.
Penix, Jr. has a tough go of it in the Week 1 Indiana at Iowa pick as the Hawkeyes return all four starters in their defensive secondary. The Hoosiers didn’t play Iowa last season, but had some good showings playing solely in a Big Ten schedule, perhaps highlighted by their only loss of the regular season, 42-35 against Ohio State. Penix threw for 491 yards and 5 TDs in that contest, with Ty Fryfogle catching 7 balls for 218 yards and 3 TD.
Their offense gets a lot of the hype, but the Indiana defense also ranked 4th in the Big Ten last year in points/game – and bring back 8 starters.
Hawkeyes Offense Gets Their 1st Test
Spencer Petras takes the reins at QB for the Hawkeyes up against a very opportunistic Hoosiers defense that led the FBS with an amazing 2.1 INT/game in 2020. Petras started 8 games a season ago, throwing 9 TD to 5 INT.
Petras completed less than 60% of his passes a season ago, but that was also without a regular offseason due to COVID and with just two garbage time appearances in his redshirt freshman year in 2019. The good news for Petras is that he doesn’t necessarily have to win games, as Iowa can rely on last year’s All Big-Ten RB Tyler Goodson returning after 762 yards and 7 TDs in just 8 games last year.
For the most part the job of the Hawkeyes offense is to just not get in the way of the defense. Iowa gave up just 16.4 ppg last year, and rattled off six straight wins after falling 24-20 to Purdue and 21-20 to Northwestern to open the year. Iowa wasn’t far off from a perfect 8-0 regular season.
Week 1 Indiana at Iowa Pick
Iowa rallied after struggling the first two games of the season to win six straight games down the stretch. They only return two starters from their O-line though, and lost three defensive starters to the NFL. Iowa could have benefitted from a matchup with an Abilene Christian here to work out the kinks, and the Hoosiers will take advantage.
Indiana 26 – Iowa 21
Free Pick: Indiana +3.5