Will Iowa's New-Look Offense Lead to More Overs?

The under was 12-2 in Iowa games last year, hitting 86% of the time for a return of +8.8 units

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There are three things synonymous with Iowa Football; good defense, bad offense and betting the under.

The Hawkeyes had the worst offense among all FBS teams last season in terms of yards per game with 235.4. Not only were they the nation's cellar-dweller, but they averaged 28.7 fewer YPG than the second-worst team, Eastern Michigan. Iowa also only averaged 15.4 points per game, the second-worst mark in the country, which explains why betting the under was so profitable.

If you backed the under in Iowa's last nine games, you would have gone 9-0. If you bet the under in every game last season, you would have won 86% of the time for a return of +8.8 units. Over the last two seasons, the under went 20-6, hitting 77% of the time for a return of +12.01 units.

Based on these numbers, you're probably thinking that blindly backing the under once again this season is a good idea. Think again!

The Hawkeyes hired a new offensive coordinator, Tim Lester, who is bringing a more vibrant style of play to Iowa City this year. How will that affect the way you should bet on Iowa games? Let's find out!

What To Expect From Lester's Offense

Before we examine how to approach the Hawkeyes win total or individual game totals, we need to look at how the offense will change under Lester. The new OC was the head coach at Western Michigan from 2017-2022 before spending the previous season in Green Bay as the Packers' senior analyst.

Packers head coach Matt LaFleur comes from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. After spending a season with LaFleur in Green Bay (and playing with him at Western Michigan in the '90s), Lester is bringing the same Shanahan-driven philosophy that the Packers used to Iowa City.

That entails constant motion and pre-snap alignments to try and confuse the defense as well as a heavy dose of the run game. The Hawkeyes have had a strong ground game over the years, but focusing more on shifts and movement to keep the defense guessing will help unlock more explosive plays.

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Betting The Over/Under

Totals for the opening week of the season have yet to be posted. While I imagine we'll see slightly elevated numbers, there are a few other components to keep in mind.

Any improvement is likely to result in more production than last year, but that doesn't necessarily mean overs are the right play. It's important to remember that while Iowa's offense might improve, its defense is expected to remain dominant. Iowa ranked 4th in the country in points allowed per game last season, giving up just 13.2.

Additionally, more offensive success means the defense won't have to be on the field as much. This will allow that unit to rest and remain fresher throughout the game, leading to fewer mistakes for opponents to capitalize on.

The Hawkeyes are also implementing a brand new system for the first time since Brian Ferentz took over in 2017. Even then, his philosophy didn't change significantly to what was already in place. Essentially, this is an entirely new approach that will take time for the entire team to get used to, meaning we might not see drastic changes in scoring early on.

Betting Iowa's Win Total

The Hawkeyes win total for the 2024 season is set at 7.5 and is juiced -140 to the over and +120 to the under at DraftKings. The last time Iowa stayed under 7.5 wins was in 2014 when it went 7-6. Since then, it's had three 10-win seasons, one 9-win season, and three 8-win seasons.

If winning 10 games last year while only averaging 15.4 points per game was attainable, going over 7.5 wins this season seems extremely doable, especially if its offense looks anything like Kyle Shanahan's.

Iowa also has seven home games compared to just five road games. It went 7-1 at Kinnick Stadium last year and will host Washington, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Nebraska this season. The Huskers are the only team out of that bunch with an equal or higher win total (7.5) than Iowa, so I wouldn't be shocked if it went undefeated at home.

ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) is also a strong indicator that the Hawkeyes can surpass their win total. It gives Iowa a 77% chance to win six or more games, ranking 37th in the country. Among Big Ten teams, it ranks 17th in strength of schedule, with only Rutgers having an easier lineup. Taking the over on the Hawkeyes' win total is the way to go.

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