Free College Football Bowl Picks and Spreads: Rutgers vs Iowa St 2011 Pinstripe Bowl Vegas Odds, Free Picks, and Expert Predictions on ESPN 12/30/11: The Iowa State Cyclones may have had the most noteworthy 6-6 season in college football history. That’s because one of those victories was an upset win over the second-ranked Oklahoma State, which dropped the Cowboys to third in the polls and set up a rematch between LSU and Alabama for the BCS Championship. The win also helped the Cyclones earn a berth in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl Friday night, where they will face the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (8-4). Rutgers just missed out on winning the Big East and earning a BCS bid of its own, but despite missing out on a big prize, the Scarlet Knights are one-point favorites in this matchup.
On paper, Rutgers would appear to have the edge. The Scarlet Knights average more points per game and give up almost 11 fewer points on defense. That being said, the Cyclones faced a much-tougher schedule, with five of their six losses coming against ranked opponents. In addition, Iowa State was forced to go up against the high-powered offenses of the Big 12, which inflated the defense’s points against. Meanwhile, Rutgers faced just a single ranked foe all season and played in a Big East conference that lacked the offensive firepower of other BCS conferences.
The other issue facing the Scarlet Knights is the fact that their offense is extremely one dimensional. Rutgers was one of the 10 worst teams in the country when it comes to running the football, and not a single back averaged more than four yards per carry. Although Iowa State didn’t put up as many points as the Scarlet Knights, the Cyclones were a more balanced offensive team, averaging more than 180 yards per game on the ground and more than 220 through the air. Facing a more predictable, less explosive offense will certainly take some pressure of the Cyclones suspect defense.
A critical matchup in this game will be Iowa State’s coverage of Rutgers receiver Mohamed Sanu. He had 109 catches for more than 1,100 yards this season and was an absolute force moving the chains. Sanu is a crucial piece of the Scarlet Knight’s pass-heavy system. Without a running game to fall back on, Sanu’s ability to run short patterns over the middle helps to compensate. If the Cyclones can design a scheme to limit Sanu’s effectiveness, the Scarlet Knights could struggle to put up points.
The X-factor in the game will likely be Iowa State quarterback Jared Barnett. The freshman has impressed since taking over the offense, jumpstarting what was a mediocre offense. Barnett’s ability to make plays with his leg gave the Cyclones’ offense a new dimension that defenses have struggled to adjust to. If Barnett continues to play at a high level, the stout Rutgers’ defense could be pushed to the limit.
In the end, the brutal schedule that the Cyclones have faced should pay dividends. Iowa State’s defense certainly won’t be intimidated by the Scarlet Knights’ offense, and the Cyclones’ offense is hitting its stride at the perfect time. Iowa State has a more balanced offense, and the Cyclones are a better team than their record suggests. The Scarlet Knights simply haven’t played the same caliber of competition, and Iowa State will likely show the talent gap that exists between the Big 12 and the Big East.
Prediction: Iowa State Cyclones (-1) Cover the Spread
Free College Football Picks and NCAAF Predictions: Iowa St -1 to cover the spread
|Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers vs Iowa St
Time: 3:20 PM EST on ESPN
Vegas Odds – Favorite: Iowa St -1 Total: Over/Under 45
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