Championship weekend has arrived in NCAA Football. In the Big Ten, the matchup of Michigan vs. Iowa will determine who wins the conference championship and will have a significant impact on the College Football Playoff. College football betting odds have Michigan as a 10.5-point favorite.
The Hawkeyes and Wolverines have won four straight games to get here. So let’s look at how this Big Ten Championship game shapes up for bettors.
Jim Harbaugh and his Wolverines are riding a massive wave of momentum heading into the Big Ten Championship. Hassan Haskins is one of the main reasons that the Wolverines are here. The running back carried 28 times for 169 yards and five touchdowns to lead his offense to victory over bitter rival Ohio State.
The 42-27 win was the first for Michigan against Ohio state in Jim Harbaugh’s tenure as the Wolverine’s coach. With the statement win, Harbaugh now goes to his first Big Ten Championship game since taking over in 2015. Yet, Haskins’ big day doesn’t tell the whole story about what got Michigan to this Week 14 game.
On offense, Michigan has averaged almost identical numbers in rushing (224.9) and passing (226.3). This balanced offensive approach has helped the team average more than 37 points a game.
The Wolverines rank 21st in rushing yards per game on defense, only allowing 122.5 yards on the ground. They rank 23rd against the pass, allowing 196.3 yards per game.
After a 6-0 start, the Hawkeyes’ looked like they were in trouble after two consecutive losses. Yet, coach Kirk Ferentz turned the ship around and has the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship game. Iowa reeled off four consecutive wins to put themselves in a position to claim the Big Ten West.
Now, a closer look at Michigan versus Iowa shows some remarkable differences. While the two teams both give up around 17 points per game, their offensive numbers are quite different. Michigan scores an average of 37.3 points, more than ten points over Iowa at 25.7.
On defense, Iowa allows 210 rushing yards per game (38th) and 105.8 rushing yards (14th). Iowa also has a +13 turnover differential, so they’re an opportunistic defense that can create turnovers.
The Iowa Hawkeyes could have difficulty moving the chains this week against a Michigan team that sacks opposing quarterback on 7.88% of their dropbacks, which is 38th in the country. Last week, Michigan recorded four sacks against Ohio State.
Michigan vs. Iowa (+10.5)
The point spread for Michigan vs. Iowa reflects the difference in Michigan’s ability to score. However, I believe that defense will determine the outcome of this game. If the Iowa Hawkeyes can create some turnovers, the odds could swing in their favor.
The issue for the Hawkeyes is that Wolverines’ balanced attack will cause issues for Iowa. Even if Iowa can slow down Michigan’s passing game, they still have to slow down Hassan Haskins. On offense, they have to find a way to score points against a dominant Michigan front seven led by Aidan Hutchinson.
I like Michigan to win big in this game. I don’t believe Iowa will score more than 14 points against Michigan’s defense, and I think that the Wolverines will wear Iowa’s defense down. So I’m predicting a final score of 30-14 in the Wolverine’s favor.