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Michigan vs. Iowa Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet Big Ten Championship

Michigan vs. Iowa Odds, Picks, Predictions: How to Bet Big Ten Championship article feature image

Matthew Holst/Getty Images. Pictured: The Iowa Hawkeyes.

Michigan vs. Iowa Odds

Saturday, Dec. 4
8 p.m. ET
Michigan Odds
-120o / +100u
Iowa Odds
-120o / +100u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

Michigan looks to secure its first Big Ten title and spot in the College Football Playoff under Jim Harbaugh when it takes on Iowa in the Big Ten Championship game on Saturday night.

Iowa has had an unexpectedly fantastic season, going 10-2 and winning the Big Ten West after Wisconsin lost to Minnesota in Minneapolis last weekend.

The Hawkeyes are somewhat of a fluky team to have made it this far, but they are playing in the perfect Kirk Ferentz mold by having a solid rushing attack, great defense, and fantastic special teams.

Iowa last won the Big Ten Title in 2004 when it split with Michigan but has not won the title since the conference championship game was introduced. So, this could be Iowa’s first outright Big Ten title since 1985.

Michigan finally got the monkey off its back and beat Ohio State, 44-29, in convincing fashion last Saturday in Ann Arbor.

Outside of one bad quarter against Michigan State, Michigan has been very dominant all season long and should have plenty of advantages against Iowa.

The question is whether or not the Wolverines come down from that emotional high and win convincingly as big favorites.

Michigan Wolverines

Wolverines Offense

Michigan’s offense has been humming this season.

The Wolverines are gaining 6.3 yards per play, rank 26th in Offensive Success Rate, and 18th in EPA/Play. However, Michigan hasn’t faced a level of defense like Iowa’s since its game against Wisconsin back in early September.

Michigan runs a rush-heavy offense, carrying the ball 59.6% of the time, which is good news and bad news against Iowa’s front seven. The Wolverines rank 16th in Rushing Success Rate, 29th in EPA/Rush, and average 5.3 yards per carry.

The problem in this matchup is Iowa’s defense is fantastic against the run and preventing explosive rushing plays.

However, the Hawks are outside the top 70 in Stuff Rate and Power Success Rate Allowed, so Michigan’s running back tandem of Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins should carry the ball beyond the line of scrimmage consistently.

Corum. Cutback. 👀@blake_corum //

— Michigan On BTN (@MichiganOnBTN) November 27, 2021

Cade McNamara has had a very interesting season. He’s not going to wow anybody, as he’s averaging only 8.1 yards per attempt and owns a 74.5 PFF passing grade with 14 big-time throws and only five turnover-worthy plays.

The problem is Michigan comes in at only 47th in Passing Success Rate, which is a problem going up against the Hawkeyes’ secondary, which is one of the best in college football.

The advantage Michigan will have in the passing game is explosive plays. Iowa is 67th nationally in passing explosiveness allowed and will be without one of its best cornerbacks in Matt Hankins. So, McNamara should be able to break off some explosive plays through the air.

Wolverines Defense

Michigan has one of the best defenses in country, allowing only 4.6 yards per play. However, it helps when a team has one of the best defensive players in all of college football in Aiden Hutchinson.

I can’t stop watching @aidanhutch97 His performance was absolutely dominating in The Game. He impacted every single game with plays like this and should be in NYC.

— Jon Jansen (@JonJansen77) November 29, 2021

Hutchinson has been wreaking Havoc all season long, as he has 68 pressures, 34 tackles for loss, 13 sacks, and a 93.0 pass-rushing grade, per PFF. He will be a big problem for an Iowa offensive line that has struggled to protect the quarterback.

For Michigan to stop Iowa, it’s going to have to first stop the run and then limit Iowa’s explosive plays in the passing game.

Michigan allows only 3.6 yards per rush attempt and ranks top-25 in both Rushing Success Rate Allowed and Defensive Line Yards, so it should be able to stop a poor Iowa rushing attack.

The Michigan secondary has been susceptible to allowing big plays in the passing game, which is its biggest weakness on defense. The unit ranks 46th in explosive passing allowed. Iowa comes in at 55th in passing explosiveness, so the Hawkeyes will likely need to throw the ball deep if they aren’t able to run the ball.

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Iowa Hawkeyes

Hawkeyes Offense

Throughout most of the season, the Iowa offense has been very anemic and it shows in the advanced stats, as it ranks outside the top 100 in yards per play, EPA/Play, and Success Rate.

However, Iowa’s offense improved a lot in the month of November

In Iowa’s last four games, it’s averaging close to 5.0 yards per play and 4.0 yards per rush attempt. I know that doesn’t sound great, but through its first eight games of the season, Iowa was gaining only 4.4 yards per play and 2.8 yards per rush attempt.

So, Tyler Goodson and company should find some success against Michigan’s front seven.

Tyler Goodson gets @HawkeyeFootball on the board first! ⚡️

— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) November 6, 2021

It was announced earlier this week that Spencer Petras will get the start at quarterback over Alex Padilla.

Petras really isn’t an upgrade over Padilla because he hasn’t been very efficient this season, averaging only 6.5 yards per attempt with a 71.5 passing grade, per PFF. However, Petras has a 95.0 passing grade on attempts over 20+ yards, so Iowa should look to attack with the deep ball and rip off a few big plays in the passing game.

Hawkeyes Defense

It’s incredibly difficult to throw the ball on this Iowa secondary that has allowed only 6.1 yards per pass attempt this season.

Iowa’s secondary grades out as the fourth-best unit in all of college football, per PFF. However, as previously mentioned, Hankins is going to miss this game for the Hawkeyes, which is massive considering his 80.2 coverage grade is second-best among the Iowa cornerbacks.

However, Riley Moss will start in the secondary and will be a major problem for McNamara. In 310 coverage snaps this season, Moss has allowed only 17 catches, no touchdowns, and has four interceptions.

Riley Moss: 4 INT’s in zone coverage this season, most in College Football🤫

— PFF College Football (@PFF_College) December 2, 2021

However, Michigan is running the ball almost 57% of the time, so it will be on the front seven to try and slow down Michigan’s rushing attack.

Fortunately for Iowa, its front seven has actually been just as dominant as the secondary this season. The Hawkeyes allow only 3.0 yards per rush attempt while ranking 16th in Rushing Success Rate Allowed, 19th in Defensive Line Yards, and ninth in EPA per rush.

However, this is the best rushing offense they’ve seen all season, so we’ll see if they can handle Corum and Haskins.

Michigan vs. Iowa Matchup Analysis

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

Michigan Offense vs. Iowa Defense
Rush Success1616
Line Yards4519
Pass Success4713
Pass Blocking**4583
Big Play805
Finishing Drives5151
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Iowa Offense vs. Michigan Defense
Rush Success11922
Line Yards12918
Pass Success12117
Pass Blocking**993
Big Play10126
Finishing Drives12013
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling722
Middle 8863
SP+ Special Teams25
Plays per Minute89102
Rush Rate60.8% (23)56.9% (50)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Michigan vs. Iowa Betting Pick

Even though this game has all of the makings of a defensive slugfest, I do think both defenses are susceptible to giving up explosive plays in the passing game, which does provide a little of value on the over.

Our PRO Projections have 46.3 points projected for this game, so I’ll back the over at 43.5 points or better.

Pick: Over 43.5 or Better 

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