Monday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, the Iowa Hawkeyes (8-4) and No. 17 Florida Gators (8-4) meet in the Outback Bowl in Tampa, Florida. According to OddsShark, betting opened with Florida as a two-point favorite, and since then the line has moved slightly with the Gators now listed as a three-point favorite. The point total, which opened at 40.5 points, has remained the same on most sports books with the exceptions being the Bovada (41 points) and Wynn (40) sports books.
The OddsShark computer projects this to be a very close game, with a score of Iowa 21.8, Florida 21.6.
Neither team has been particularly good against the spread this season. Florida is 5-7 ATS this season, and they enter the Outback Bowl having lost their last two (Florida State, Alabama) and three of their last five ATS. And with Florida’s offensive struggles, as they’ve scored more than 21 points just twice since October 1, it should come as no surprise that the “under” has hit in eight of their 12 games. Florida has won five of its last seven bowl games, but the program is 0-1 in bowl games under head coach Jim McElwain.
Florida’s 54-16 loss to No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship Game ended a streak of five straight games in which the “under” hit.
As for Iowa the Hawkeyes are only 6-6 ATS, but they have won their last three games against the spread beginning with the 14-13 upset win over Michigan. The Hawkeyes lost four of their first five games ATS, including losses (both ATS and straight up) to North Dakota State and Northwestern. As for point totals, the “under” has hit in seven of Iowa’s 12 games according to OddsShark. Kirk Ferentz’s program has lost its last four bowl games, with two of the defeats coming against SEC opposition (2013 Outback vs. LSU, 2014 TaxSlayer vs. Tennessee).
Given how often the “under” has hit in both teams’ games, and the fact that they’re tied for tenth in scoring defense (17.9 points allowed per game), it’s likely that this will be a low-scoring affair. That being said, having a month to prepare can be beneficial to offenses that haven’t been all that prolific this season.
Prediction: Iowa +3 and the under, with the Hawkeyes winning 20-17.
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