Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 9:45 AM EST.
Iowa +125 over Kentucky
Vrbo Citrus Bowl - Camping World Stadium – Orlando, FL
1:00 PM EST. We could simply tell you that this game is a 50/50 proposition and we are getting extra points because of Iowa’s running back Tyler Goodson opting out for NFL Draft preparations but that would be a red herring. After all, Kentucky lost two key players when wide receivers Josh Ali and Isaiah Epps were injured in a car accident in mid-December. Losing two key offensive producers against a defense as stingy as Iowa’s is certainly not a good look but it goes beyond that, as there is also a reaction to recent results.
The last time the market got a look at Iowa, it saw the Hawkeyes getting frog-stomped by Michigan in the B1G Championship when the Hawkeyes were rolled 42-3. That kind of a showing makes it very hard to come back on Iowa if you bet or watched them, especially without its best offensive weapon. However, we need to highlight that even with Goodson available, Iowa was never a team that hung its hat on their offensive prowess, they simply managed the game and enabled their defense to put them in position to succeed. Iowa’s defense will be fully manned.
By comparison, Kentucky’s latest results have been much more positive. The Wildcats lambasted Louisville in the renewal of “The Battle for the Keg of Nails” where UK hung 52 points on UL. Extending back three games, Big Blue has won three straight and outscored opponents 142-54. However, we must highlight that those results came against Louisville (who finished 6-7), New Mexico State (perhaps the worst team in the FBS), and Vanderbilt (definitely the worst team in the SEC). Previous to that, Kentucky dropped three straight against Georgia, Mississippi State, and Tennessee where the ‘Cats were outscored 106-72. That’s significant, as we could classify Iowa as a team with more quality than two of the sides listed in that trio. It wasn’t too long ago that the Hawkeyes were only second to Georgia in the rankings at one point this season. That does not bode well for the ‘Cats situationally whose three losses this year all came against sides that will finish the season with a winning record.
Furthermore, aside from the two aforementioned dregs and Louisville who finished with a losing record, Kentucky’s other victories occurred against LSU (barely made a bowl), Florida (lost to UCF and finished 6-7, South Carolina (another team that barely made a bowl), Chattanooga (FCS team), Missouri (another 6-7 side), and UL Monroe (rivalling New Mexico State for the worst in the FBS). Against Florida, South Carolina, Missouri, and Chattanooga, the Wildcats won by no more than a touchdown and could have lost any of those contests. Thus, we can say Kentucky is a very misleading 9-3.
While the 10-win Hawkeyes three losses were against Michigan, Wisconsin, and Purdue are all difficult to swallow because they were blowout losses. However, Iowa owns some impressive wins over then #4 Penn State, they also beat a tough Gophers’ squad and also dominated then #9 Iowa State.
At the end of the day, Iowa plays a conservative style while Kentucky does not. The Wildcats are absolutely more explosive and it’s simply so much easier to get behind a team that can score as opposed to getting behind a team that is frustrating to bet on and frustrating to watch. Hell, even their own rabid fans are bracing for more disappointment. As a result of Iowa’s boring style and its inability to get its backers to the pay window (they failed to cover five of its last seven), there is a mass exodus on the Iowa bandwagon. That’s usually the best time to jump on.
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Iowa +137 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.74)