The No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (4-0 SU, 3-1 ATS) visit the Maryland Terrapins (4-0 SU, 2-1 ATS) in a primetime Friday affair (8 p.m. ET, FS1).
Both the Hawkeyes and Terps have a conference win under their belts, but Big Ten play really takes off this week.
Iowa opened its season by dominating the Indiana Hoosiers — ranked No. 17 at the time — 34-6. Meanwhile, Maryland emerged with a hard-fought 20-17 road victory against the Illinois Fighting Illini for its third win of the season. Maryland will certainly take the win but failed to cover as a 7-point favorite.
Online sportsbooks generally opened with the Hawkeyes laying between 3.5 and 4 points, with totals ranging between 45.5-46.5. The spread has mostly remained steady, but the total has climbed at several shops.
Department Of Defense
Iowa and Maryland can attribute much of their success to exploits on the defensive side of the ball.
Iowa ranks No. 3 in scoring defense (11.0 PPG), while Maryland clocks in at No. 8 (14.3). The Hawkeyes are stingy in the total defense department as well, holding opposing offenses to 271.5 yards per contest. Maryland is far from a sieve (324.2 opp. YPG), but Iowa figures to have a little more success advancing the ball throughout the night.
The turnover battle is always a major factor in competitive matchups, and both teams have fared well in that area. Iowa has nine takeaways on the season compared to only four giveaways. And with seven takeaways to four giveaways, Maryland has also taken good care of the football.
The team that wins the turnover battle on Friday night will have a leg up when the final whistle blows.
The term “trap game” may be bandied about heading into this Iowa-Maryland contest, and for good reason.
No. 11 Ohio State looms next weekend for Maryland, but one would imagine the Terrapins will be locked in on beating Iowa. After all, they’ll be playing at home on a Friday night against the fifth-ranked team in the country.
The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, are hosting No. 4 Penn State in just over a week’s time.
It’s only natural to look ahead to what currently stands as a top-5 matchup with significant postseason ramifications. Every coach preaches “one game at a time” and “our next game is our biggest game”. The sentiment is great, but it’s difficult to live by those mantras, especially at 18-22 years old. Iowa’s ability to remain focused on Maryland — and only Maryland — will play a large role in the final outcome.
Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa — Iowa has been dubbed “Tight End U”, and LaPorta is the most recent Hawkeye to carry that torch. He leads the team with 17 receptions, 214 yards, and two touchdowns.
Dontay Demus Jr., WR, Maryland — Demus has established himself as a big-play threat. He leads the Big Ten in receiving, averaging 111.5 yards per game. Additionally, his 18.6 yards per catch pace the team, and he’s tied with fellow receiver Rakim Jarrett with three touchdowns.
Iowa and Maryland have combined for seven UNDERs in seven games, so it’s only natural to look at the total.
DraftKings Sportsbook, among others, is dealing 48 on the total, the highest number available as of Wednesday afternoon. Iowa is no stranger to low OVER/UNDER lines. If 48 holds, it will be the second-highest closing total of the season for the Hawkeyes.
It’s been a slightly different dynamic for the Terps, who oddsmakers have been pegging for more shootouts. The total for the Illinois and Kent State games, respectively, closed at 61.5 and 71.5. Maryland wasn’t particularly close to the OVER, combining to score 37 and 53 in those contests.
Bettors interested in the spread will want to keep a close eye on the line movement. Whereas most shops, including FanDuel Sportsbook, were dealing 3.5 at the time of writing, DraftKings landed on the key number of 3.