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College Football Odds & Pick for Iowa vs Michigan | 2023 Big Ten Championship Betting Preview

College Football Odds & Pick for Iowa vs Michigan | 2023 Big Ten Championship Betting Preview article feature image

Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: The Iowa Hawkeyes.

Iowa vs Michigan Odds

Saturday, Dec. 2
8 p.m. ET
Iowa Hawkeyes Odds
-110o / -110u
Michigan Wolverines Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NCAAF odds here.

Michigan looks to win its third straight Big Ten title as it faces Iowa in Indianapolis, and we're here to make a college football pick for Saturday night's showdown.

Iowa finished off a 10-2 season by beating Nebraska, 13-10, in Lincoln last weekend. It's been an incredible year for an Iowa defense that has been putting up historic numbers, though the offense has been getting all the headlines.

Michigan picked up its third straight win over Ohio State in the "The Game" last weekend to cap off a perfect 12-0 regular season. Michigan's season has been marred by the sign-stealing allegations and Jim Harbaugh's suspensions, but the Wolverines still managed to go undefeated.

The stage is set, so let's dig into the matchup.

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Iowa Hawkeyes

Iowa's offense has been historically bad this season, and the game against Nebraska was no different.

Iowa can run the ball effectively, but Deacon Hill is not a good quarterback, so defenses are playing a heavy box against the Hawkeyes. Iowa has faced eight or more defenders in the box on 43% of its rushing attempts this season, per Sports Info Solutions. It's hard for any offensive line to create lanes when there are that many defenders to block.

Hill has been a disaster at quarterback. He's a massive downgrade from Cade McNamara, as he's completing only 48.3% of his passes with a 51.0% On-Target Rate, per Sports Info Solutions.

Iowa has one of the best defenses in the country because of its strong secondary.

The Hawkeyes boast the No. 1 coverage unit in the country, per PFF, and are allowing only 5.0 yards per attempt to rank second in the nation. They did lose their best cover man in Cooper DeJean for the season, but they held both Nebraska and Illinois to under seven yards per attempt.

J.J. McCarthy certainly poses a much more difficult threat, but if we go back to when Iowa played Penn State, Drew Allar couldn't average over five yards per attempt either.

Ultimately, it won't be easy for Michigan to throw the ball.

Iowa is also incredibly difficult to run against. Michigan is going to run the ball a lot in this game, but it's going to have to do so two or three yards at a time.

The Hawkeyes are also one of the best teams in the country at defending a short field. They're allowing only 2.4 Points per Scoring Opportunity, which ranks third in the nation.

Special teams could give the Iowa defense a boost as well. Punter Tory Taylor has downed the most punts downed inside the 20-yard line in college football, which has helped Iowa rank eighth in average starting field position on defense.

Michigan Wolverines

Michigan's offense has been incredibly efficient all season, but let's be honest — the Wolverines have played an incredibly easy schedule outside of the games against Penn State and Ohio State.

The Wolverines' game plan is pretty clear — they're only going to throw the ball if they have to. The Ohio State game was very back-and-forth, but Michigan still ran the ball 39 times and attempted 21 passes.

Michigan's offense is built on methodically moving the ball down the field while sucking the life out of the opposing defense, which is what Penn State did to Iowa earlier this season.

The Wolverines run the ball 59.4% of the time and play at the second-slowest pace in the country, running a play every 31.5 seconds.

The offense isn't built on big plays. It's built on Positive EPA plays over and over again. Michigan ranks 112th in explosiveness, but it's generating a positive EPA on 50.3% of its offensive plays, which is top-10 in the nation.

The Wolverines defense should be able to stop one of the worst offenses in the country. Iowa is going to try to run as much as it possibly can, but Michigan ranks top-15 in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, Defensive Line Yards and EPA/Rush Allowed.

Michigan also boasts a top-10 secondary by just about every metric, so it'll have no problem shutting down Hill and the Hawkeyes.

Iowa vs Michigan

Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Iowa and Michigan match up statistically:

Iowa Offense vs Michigan Defense
Rush Success13111
Line Yards1328
Pass Success1229
Finishing Drives1262
Quality Drives1252
Michigan Offense vs Iowa Defense
Rush Success3712
Line Yards5722
Pass Success210
Finishing Drives63
Quality Drives43
Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling61
PFF Coverage14
Special Teams SP+3.56.4
Middle 87324
Seconds per Play29.1 (104)31.5 (132)
Rush Rate59.4% (25)61.7% (11)

Iowa vs Michigan

Betting Pick & Prediction

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This may be the most boring conference championship game of the weekend because both teams are set up to play incredibly slow, methodical football.

There's a real question about whether or not Iowa will score in this game, especially given the special teams errors last weekend against Nebraska.

However, I think the way to play this game is to back Iowa's defense.

Michigan is going to run the ball a lot. It's going to try to drain the life out of Iowa's defense, but we'll see two yards and a cloud of dust quite often.

Iowa is one of the most fundamentally sound defenses in the country. Not only do the Hawkeyes rarely make mistakes in coverage, but they also have the sixth-best tackling grade in the country, per PFF.

Additionally, they're incredibly difficult to score on with a short field, so I think Michigan will struggle a bit on Saturday night.

I only have Michigan projected for 23.1 points in this game, so I like trusting Iowa's defense and taking the Wolverines team total under 28.5 points.

Pick: Michigan Team Total Under 28.5 Points

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