OK, this will surely seem like piling on Iowa. So, first of all, let me say you have to be a good, respected football program to be double-digit favorites a lot. Indiana has been favored by 10 points or more against fellow FBS teams just six times since the start of the 2006 season. Minnesota? Four. Iowa? Twenty-eight.
Secondly, in terms of wins and losses, the Hawkeyes’ record under Kirk Ferentz compares extremely favorably to almost all of the rest of the Big Ten in the last 10 years. And, it was just 22 months ago when Iowa won the Orange Bowl.
I’ve written a boatload of columns and blog posts in that time citing statistics that reflected favorably on Iowa and its coach. All that pandering to Hawkeyeland aside …
Iowa’s loss to 16-point underdog Minnesota last Saturday got me wondering how many times Iowa has lost as a double-digit favorite. Luckily, materials to find such arcane statistics are easily found. Phil Steele’s 2011College Football Preview has all the point spreads as far back as 2006, and this site goes all the way back to 1993.
From 1999 to 2005, Ferentz’s first seven seasons as Iowa’s coach, the Hawkeyes were 18-0 straight-up when they were favored by 10 or more points. Since 2006, they are 19-9. That isn’t especially good. It looks even worse when you compare it to the same records of the other Big Ten programs as double-digit favorites since 2006:
Wisconsin 31-0 1.000 pct.
Penn State 29-0 1.000
Indiana 6-0 1.000
Ohio State 42-2 .955
Michigan 21-1 .955
Nebraska 29-3 .906
Northwestern 8-1 .889
Michigan State 16-2 .889
Purdue 14-2 .875
Illinois 12-2 .857
Iowa 19-9 .679
Minnesota 2-2 .500
Iowa’s losses as double-digit favorites since 2006 were these:
2006: Indiana (19-pt. favorite, lost 31-28), Northwestern (20-pt. favorite, lost 21-7)
2007: Iowa State (17-pt. favorite, lost 15-13), Indiana (10-pt. favorite, lost 38-20), Western Michigan (14-pt. favorite, lost 28-19)
2009: Northwestern (15-pt. favorite, lost 17-10)
2010: Northwestern (10-pt. favorite, lost 21-17), Minnesota (15-pt. favorite, lost 27-24)
2011: Minnesota (16-pt. favorite, lost 22-21)