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Iowa vs. Wisconsin Big Ten football odds, spread, pick: Total of 36.5 points lowest of NCAA season but not historically low

Oddsmakers don't expect many points scored Saturday between Iowa and Wisconsin.
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Most football fans like offensive shootouts these days. It's why the vast majority of head coaches hired at both the NCAA and NFL levels have offensive backgrounds. If points are your thing, it probably will be best to avoid watching Saturday's Big Ten matchup between No. 9 Iowa and unranked Wisconsin from Madison. The total of 36.5 points is the lowest of the 2021 season and it's all but a sure thing there will not be a lower one. The Badgers are 3.5-point favorites. Click here for model picks.

It's a very important game in the Big Ten's West Division – although that champion is likely to get steamrolled in the Big Ten Championship Game by Ohio State – as Iowa is atop the West with Minnesota at 3-1 in the league and Wisconsin is tied for second at 2-2 with Purdue.

Why is this total so low? Iowa ranks third nationally in scoring defense at 14.6 ppg, seventh against the rush (89.9 ypg) and 13th in total defense (301.3 ypg). The Hawkeyes lead the country in interceptions (16) and takeaways (21). However, maybe the best player on that defense, cornerback Riley Moss, will miss his second straight game due to a knee injury. Moss is tied for the national lead with four interceptions and has returned two for scores.

Offensively, Iowa isn't exactly dynamic as it has been held to 24 points or fewer three times, including a season-low seven last time out on Oct. 16 in a 24-7 home upset loss to Purdue.

Wisconsin's season looked dead in the water when the Badgers were 1-3, but they have won three straight and allowed 27 combined points in them. They beat that same Purdue team last Saturday 30-13.

UW leads the nation in allowing only 53.3 rushing yards per game and 1.9 yards per carry. The Badgers have held five of their seven opponents this season to 50 or fewer rushing yards, the most of any FBS team. Wisconsin is No. 2 in total defense at 223.0 ypg and has held two opponents to fewer than 100 total yards. Purdue rushed for an absurd minus-13 yards last week. During the three-game winning streak, Wisconsin has allowed an average of 9.0 points and 188.3 total yards.

The previous lowest total this season was 37.5 points on Oct. 16 between Wisconsin and Army in Madison and the Badgers won that 20-14. There have been three totals lower than 36.5 points since 2018, with the lowest set at 35 points in 2019 between Michigan State and Northwestern. The Cats won 31-10.

Last year, the total between these two was 40.0 points and the Hawkeyes won 28-7 at home. That went Under but the previous three in the series went Over. This writer went Under on Saturday simply because it's so crazy low and the Moss injury. 

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