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Free Pick: Indiana at Iowa 9/4/21
Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Free Pick: Indiana at Iowa 9/4/21

Here is the third good game on opening weekend involving two Big-10 teams in their conference opener. Both teams are ranked in the Top-25 and Indiana is coming off it’s best season in years. The Hawkeyes were their usual consistent selves in 2020 and no one should expect anything else in 2021. Time to break these two down.

Quarterback: Iowa has its’ usual steady, competent quarterback in Spencer Petras who developed into a reliable signal-caller as the season went along. He will be counted on to do more of the same. Meanwhile, Indiana will counter with Michael Penix Jr. who is a difference-maker when healthy and therein lies the question. Can he stay healthy? Advantage: Indiana

Running Backs: The Hoosiers need someone to step up and replace Stevie Scott and they are counting on a couple of talented but unproven youngsters. The Hawkeyes return Tyler Goodson who rushed for 762 yards in just eight games last season. Advantage: Iowa

Receivers: Iowa lost two of their best receivers but they return their tight end, Sam Laporta who looks like a star. Indiana has Ty Fryfogle, a third-team All-American who has caught 112 passes for 1719 yards and 13 TDs in his career. They also have tight end Peyton Hendershot who returns with his 90 receptions for 936 yards and 10 TD’s in his three years. Advantage: Indiana

Offensive Line: The Hoosiers have a lot of experience returning upfront with 4 starters returning plus gaining a transfer from Michigan. but their running game needed some improvement a year ago and lost their beat back. Iowa has to replace two tackles but they usually have linemen. Advantage: Iowa

Defensive Line: Iowa was hit hard upfront with the loss of two great players. However, 2nd-team All-Conference end Zach VanValkenburg returns and there are capable players waiting in the wings. Indiana will counter with experience upfront from a year ago. Advantage: Neither

Linebackers: Indiana will be led by third-team All-American Micah McFadden, Cam Jones, and Marcelino McCrary-Ball who missed all of last year. Iowa returns two very good players in Seth Benson and Jack Campbell. Advantage: Indiana

Secondary: Iowa returns all four starters in the secondary and they are dependable and consistent. Indiana might even be better led by first-team All-American Tiawan Mullen. Advantage: Neither

Coaching: Tom Allen has done a remarkable job at Indiana in his five years in Bloomington and he is proven. But, it is hard to argue with the consistency and success of long-time coach Kirk Ferentz starting his 23rd year as the leader of the Hawkeyes. Advantage: Iowa

This is another one of those games where the line is difficult to bet. Iowa is currently at -3.5 and that is about where it should be. If the game was in Indiana I think Indiana would be -3.5. I’m going to take Iowa in this one because I think Indiana overachieved somewhat a year ago.

My Pick: Iowa -3.5 The yellow flag for caution is out again with confidence level 4 out of 10.

Aaron’s Pick: Indiana +3.5 Yellow flag is up

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