The 2020 Big Ten football season gets underway this weekend.
Iowa could use something positive right now, and the Hawkeyes are hoping that comes in the way of a win at Purdue at 3:30 p.m. EST on Saturday (Big Ten Network).
Oddsmakers like Iowa by a field goal
Oddsmakers are looking for Saturday’s opener to be a tight one for Iowa.
|Iowa at Purdue Week 8 Odds
(-110 juice unless noted)
|IOWA -3 -113
PUR +3 +108
|IOWA -2.5 -128
PUR +2.5 +104
(-110 juice unless noted)
|O 52.5 -112
U 52.5 -109
|O 53.5 -105
U 53.5 -115
The majority of sportsbooks are calling Iowa a 3-point road favorite. The over/under total is ranging from 52.5 to 53.5 points.
When it comes to the moneyline, Iowa isn’t providing a great deal of value, as they range from a -150 to -162 favorite.
Purdue a thorn for Iowa
The rich history between these two programs has sided with Purdue over time. The Boilermakers have a 48-39-3 all-time series advantage against the Hawkeyes.
While Iowa was able to win last year’s meeting at home, 26-20, the Boilermakers have covered the spread in three straight in this series.
One thing to note is that the road team is 9-1 ATS in the last 10 games in this series.
Public betting likes the Hawkeyes to cover on Saturday, as they are getting about 60% of the wagers as of this writing.
Ferentz hoping to change the headlines
Iowa comes into the season opener in need of some positive headlines.
Veteran coach Kirk Ferentz has made the news this week as eight former players have requested $20 million from Iowa and for Ferentz to be fired.
Players accused Ferentz and the Iowa coaching staff of using racist language during their time with the program.
Ferentz has been the head coach at Iowa since 1999. He is 162-104 with the Hawkeyes, including a 10-3 record in 2019 that saw Iowa finish 15th in the national rankings.
Iowa had a dominant defense in 2019. The unit allowed just 13.2 points and 304.3 yards per game. The defense tallied 33 sacks and forced a total of 21 turnovers.
AJ Epenesa was the defensive leader with 11.5 sacks, but he is off in the NFL and Iowa will have to find a new leader.
Finding leadership will also be key for the Iowa offense. Nate Stanley graduated after being the starting quarterback in the last three seasons. Sophomore Spencer Petras will take over the offense. He threw 10 passes in 2019.
Petras will have to build on an offense that averaged 25.8 points and 366.5 yards per game last fall. Iowa still has capable backs in Tyler Goodson and Mekhi Sargent to rely on. They combined for over 1,200 yards on the ground in 2019.
Purdue to be without Brohm
Purdue has its own challenges this week, as head coach Jeff Brohm contracted COVID-19 and will not be on the field Saturday. Brother and co-offensive coordinator Brian Brohm will be the acting head coach for Purdue.
Brohm is entering his fourth season as head coach of Purdue. The Boilermakers are 17-21 in his three years, declining in wins each year. Last fall, Purdue was just 4-8 overall and 3-6 in the Big Ten.
For Purdue to change the tide in 2020, its defense will have to step up. The Boilermakers gave up 30.6 points and 436.3 yards per game last year, putting it near the bottom of the Big Ten.
Derrick Barnes and George Karlaftis combined for 15 sacks in 2019 and are back to lead this year’s defense.
Offensively, Purdue has been dealing with a QB battle between Jack Plummer, Aidan O’Connell and Austin Burton. The Boilermakers won’t announce a starter until Saturday. Plummer and O’Connell split time last fall and combined for over 2,700 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The offense got a big boost when Rondale Moore opted back in for the 2020 season. Coming off an injury last year, Moore was one of the most explosive receivers in 2018. He had 1,258 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns while also rushing for 213 yards.
Moore joins David Bell, a sophomore that had over 1,000 yards receiving as a freshman.
Purdue ranked dead last in the Big Ten in rushing last year, averaging just 83.3 yards per game on the ground.