Iowa-Rutgers total could be historic

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Iowa heads to the birthplace of college football to take on Rutgers under the lights this Saturday night, and in the eyes of Las Vegas, the end result of this game is likely to resemble something from those early days of ” birthplace of college football. . The total for Iowa’s game against Rutgers this weekend opened earlier this week at a comically low 35.5 points, easily the lowest total on the board.

Any total under 40 points in college football is pretty amazing. This total has ballooned below 40 points for truly rarefied territory. Totals this low rarely occur in college football, a sport where offenses seem to get more creative and prolific each week. Well… most offenses. We’re certainly not going to see an offense like that on the field Saturday night. And yet, unbelievably, the Iowa-Rutgers game total keeps falling. It hit 34.5 and 34.0 earlier this week and even hit 33.5 tonight.

33.5 minutes

(via Action Network)

If that 33.5 total stands until the game starts, it would be the lowest total for a major college football game in decades. Courtesy of Action Network, here are some of the other absurdly low totals we’ve seen in recent years:

YEAR PLAY BELOW FINAL

2021

Iowa vs. Wisconsin

34.0

27-7

2015

Missouri vs. Vanderbilt

34.0

10-3

2004

ohio state vs penn state

34.0

21-10

2016

Wake Forest vs. Boston University

34.5

17-14

2019

Northwest vs Michigan State

35

31-10

It’s perhaps surprising to see Iowa only once on that list, though it’s definitely No surprising to see three Big Ten games on that list. B1G life, B1G stage, B1G unders. One of the most remarkable things about that list is that, despite those absurdly low totals, four of the five games still sank (or pushed, in the case of Iowa-Wisconsin last year). Sometimes there are only matches where the points are afraid to tread, in which the points bleed and the markers cry bitter tears.

The reason the Iowa-Rutgers total keeps falling? Because punters can’t (yet) find a number that’s low enough to generate action on the other (over) side. By Action Network, an amazing 89% of public bettors have taken the bass in this game. Nobody believes that these teams can combine for as little as 34 points. Five touchdowns? Of these equipment? LOL.

And it’s easy to see why that’s the case. The Hawkeyes have sunk in all three of their games this season (usually easily), thanks to a stifling defense and an offense that seemed mostly allergic to touchdowns and first downs. Rutgers also has a defense that has put the brakes on opponents so far this season, and while its offense is generally rated “poor” rather than “horribly terrible” like Iowa’s offense, the numbers behind those rankings they are misleading.

Rutgers ranks 90th in total offense with 369.3 ypg and 5.51 yards per play. 90 total offense is obviously not Okay, though it’s a heck of a lot better than last-place Iowa (131). But that number doesn’t pass the sniff test: Rutgers beat something called Wagner 66-7 in its second game of the season. (It could have been a guy named Wagner, who knows.) The Knights gained 585 yards in that game, more than half of their season total of 1,108 yards. In their other two games, against Boston College and Temple, the Scarlet Knights had 523 total yards; that per game average of 262 yards per game would rank them 127th in the country.

Not even Wagner’s favorite numbers can make his passing numbers acceptable. Rutgers is averaging 142 passing yards per game, “good” for 119th nationally. A completion percentage of 59.4% ranks 93rd nationally. and those numbers include Wagner’s game stats (15/25, 257 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT). Without those stats, Rutgers has 169 passing yards (total), a 59% completion rate, 0 TDs and 1 INT. Rutgers has been without presumed starting quarterback Noah Vonleh all season; Getting him back would certainly help his passing game. However, it’s unclear if he’ll be healthy enough to play Saturday against Iowa. And sending a fit midfielder against this Iowa defense may not be a smart move.

The one area of ​​Rutgers’ offense that isn’t entirely fool’s gold is the running game; the Scarlet Knights have 682 yards (227 yards per game) and eight touchdowns in three games. They were against Wagner — 328 yards, 5 TDs — but they were also impressive against Boston College (212 yards, 3 TDs). However, they managed just 142 yards (3.5 ypc) and 0 TDs against Temple last week. And honestly, a one-dimensional running team? I’ll take a chance on a Phil Parker defense against an offense like that every day of the week. Iowa’s defense isn’t usually outmatched in the running game and when they are it’s often because the opposition has some overwhelming physical characteristics (giant offensive linemen, lightning-fast running backs) and/or more unusual mobile quarterbacks or offensive systems . Those teams also usually have an aerial game that forces at least some respect from the Iowa secondary. I’m not sure any of that applies to this Rutgers offense.

The shortcomings of Iowa’s offense are well known at this point and hardly need elaboration. Despite showing some glimmers of competition last week, he’s still a baseline unit that struggles to find playmakers and get consistency out of each unit (but especially the quarterback and offensive linemen). They would be the underdogs in pretty much any matchup, but even more so against a Rutgers defense that is ranked in the Top 10 in several categories, including total defense (240.3 ypg, 10th) and run defense (32.3 ypg, 2nd).

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to analyze this game. You have two defenses that have been very good to excellent so far and make it extremely difficult for opponents to gain yards, let alone score points. You have two offenses that (against non-Wagner opponents) struggle hard to move the ball, let alone score points. Obviously, that’s not a recipe for a lot of offense or scoring. The overriding theme in most of the low total games mentioned above is the presence of suffocating defenses. Combine that with wildly inept offenses? Hello, total record.

Unless there is a shocking change in the form of offenses Y defenses in this game, the total is likely only to be threatened by unconventional scoring plays, i.e. defensive or special teams touchdowns. We can’t rule them out, of course, but special teams scores are also hard to come by. Kick return scores (mostly) require the other team to what’s more score and set up a kickoff opportunity. Punt return opportunities should be (much) more plentiful, but this game will also feature two of the best punters in college football (more on them tomorrow), who specialize in booming punts that are difficult (if not impossible). ). ) for the opponents to return. That leaves only defensive scores, and while they’re very unpredictable, we probably can’t expect three or four defensive touchdowns in this game.

Everything, every stat, every matchup, every trend, points to this game being an absolute rock fighting game and possibly one of the most recent rock fighting games. And considering Iowa just played games that went 7-3 and 10-7, that would be saying something. But this looks like a game where points have been banned and offenses are going to die. It’s going to be terrible and honestly? We can’t wait to see it.

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