Michigan vs. Iowa Odds
Big Ten Championship
By Kody Malstrom
For the first time in the last four years, we will not see Ohio State in the Big Ten Championship. Instead, we will see the Michigan Wolverines take on the Iowa Hawkeyes at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Michigan comes into this game feeling on top of the world. Harbaugh and company finally picked up their first win over Ohio State last week by a score of 42-27, Michigan’s first one against its hated rival since 2011.
The Wolverines’ defensive dominance was on full display, constantly generating pressure in the pocket and making CJ Stroud run for his life.
If it wasn’t for Georgia, we would be talking about Michigan having one of the best defenses in football this year.
This is a unit that has the best edge-rushing duo in football. Aidan Hutchinson is a potential top-five NFL Draft pick and paired along with another force on the outside in David Ojabo. They will look to once again wreak Havoc on an Iowa offense that has been struggling all season long.
The offense is pretty simple, yet as efficient as they come, consistently ranking first all season in Havoc Allowed. The Wolverines grind out long possessions with some of the lowest explosiveness in the nation but have proven to be unstoppable in gaining small chunks of yards at a time.
Running backs Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins will be faced with a tough task trying to find some success against the vaunted Iowa defense.
Iowa has had a roller coaster of a season leading up to this, squeaking in after Wisconsin dropped its final game against Minnesota. Deemed as frauds for their fluky wins and turnover luck, the Hawkeyes still pull wins out of nowhere and will look to do the same here.
Their offense is one of the worst units in the nation, ranking 100th or worse in every offensive metric. They have been constantly been bailed out by their defense, which consistantly generates Havoc and gifts them beautiful field position. Iowa may find it troubling to replicate this, as Michigan tops the nation in Havoc Allowed.
With playoff implications on the line for Michigan, this is more than just a Big Ten Championship.
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Michigan vs. Iowa Spread
By Mike McNamara
When looking at this matchup from an against-the-spread standpoint, this smells like a classic Kirk Ferentz spot to me. The line opened with Michigan as a 10.5 or 11-point favorite, and that’s where it sits right now at the time of writing.
I have a great deal of respect for my Action Network counterparts, and I see that the majority above like the Wolverines to cover the number and win the Big Ten Championship comfortably. In this game, I am going to have to disagree.
There is no disputing that Iowa is, for lack of a better term, offensively challenged, and that the Hawkeyes will likely struggle to move the ball against a stout Michigan defense.
A week ago, we saw the Wolverines’ front four, led by Hutchinson, really get after CJ Stroud and make things difficult for the high-powered Buckeye offense.
This week, they face a far less efficient offense with legitimate quarterback concerns. I get all of it, but Kirk Ferentz will have a plan. Expect the Hawkeyes to ride bell-cow running back Tyler Goodson and try to limit the number of possessions in this game.
Ferentz is totally fine having to send punter Tory Taylor out there and trusting his special teams and defense. Iowa ranks fifth in the country in SP+ special teams, and that has given a significant edge in many games this season.
As long as the Hawkeyes don’t turn the football over, they can hang around by feeding Goodson and then hoping he breaks a couple of long ones which will lead to points.
On the other side of the ball, I simply don’t think the Wolverines are going to be able to pound it on the ground the way they did against Ohio State. Iowa has the hogs to match up in what should be an awesome battle in the trenches. The Hawkeyes rank inside the top 20 in both Defensive Rush Success and Line Yards, and they will need to limit Hassan Haskins to have a chance in this one.
I think you’ll see Iowa force my long-lost cousin Cade McNamara to make plays with his arm to beat them. McNamara has been efficient throughout the season, but he hasn’t exactly stretched the field.
With Riley Moss leading the Hawkeye secondary, this will be a real challenge for him, and taking care of the football will go a long way.
Ultimately, I just think 11 points is too many in this spot. As motivated as Michigan will be to win the conference, it burnt a ton of energy last week finally getting over the hump against the Buckeyes.
Conference title game appearances don’t come around too often for the Hawkeyes, and Ferentz and staff have a phenomenal record in these kinds of spots as an underdog.
Expect Iowa to rely on its defense and special teams to hang around in this game and give Michigan a full four-quarter test. It may not be pretty, but the Hawkeyes will cover this number.
Michigan vs. Iowa Over/Under
By Mike Ianniello
Few things warm my soul more than a Big Ten under, and I am glad my Action Network brethren are in agreement with me.
Iowa vs. Michigan — with a total of 43.5 — is the way college football is supposed to be played. The only shame is that this game is being played indoors and not in the snow.
We know Michigan wants to establish the run. It has the 23rd-highest rush rate in the nation, leaning on the two-headed monster of Hassan Haskins and Blake Corum. Both average over five yards per carry and have combined for 33 carries per game.
Against the better defenses they have faced, Michigan has turned to the run even more.
When facing Washington, it had 56 runs and 15 pass attempts. Versus Wisconsin, 44 runs and 33 passes. In Happy Valley, the Wolverines recorded 41 rushes and 29 passes. And last week in the big win over Ohio State, it put up 41 rush attempts and 20 passes.
When Iowa faces the run, it’s 16th in Rushing Success and 19th in Line Yards. The Hawkeyes sit eight in the country, allowing just 2.9 yards per carry. They have allowed more than 150 yards on the ground just twice all year and are second at defending rushing explosiveness.
Michigan hired Mike Macdonald from the Ravens as its new defensive coordinator, and it has paid off immediately. The Wolverines defense ranks in the top 25 in Rush Success, Pass Success, tackling, coverage, Finishing Drives, and Line Yards.
Well, no offense to Iowa (pun intended), but its offense stinks. It ranks 123rd in the country in total offense, just below UMass. The Hawkeyes are 119th in Rushing Success and 121st in Passing Success and really have not done anything well this year.
It’s not exactly uncommon for Iowa to not be an offensive juggernaut, but what is surprising is how bad this offensive line is. Despite having the best center in the country (by far) in Tyler Linderbaum, the Hawkeyes rank 129th in Line Yards and 99th in Pass blocking.
Iowa’s tackles have really struggled this year and both have a pass-blocking grade below 60, per Pro Football Focus. They have allowed a combined seven sacks and 38 quarterback pressures.
It could be a long afternoon for them, as this Iowa line will have no answer for Hutchinson and Ojabo, who have combined for 24 sacks and both rank in the top 10 in the country.
With the struggles Iowa has on offense, it relies on turnovers and special teams mistakes to score points.
Well, Michigan has just nine turnovers all season, and only five teams have fewer. And the Wolverines rank second in the country in special teams, according to SP+. They won’t make the mistakes Iowa needs.
Both of these teams are top-10 in the country in scoring defense and allow just 17 points per game. Expect a classic Big Ten rock fight in Indianapolis on Saturday.
Michigan vs. Iowa 1H Under 23.5
By Kody Malstrom
This has been a money-maker and a frequent best bet for me all season. Let’s ride it again. By now, we have a good feeling who Michigan is. Nothing has changed all season, as it’s formula has proven successful.
The Wolverines boast one of the best defenses in the nation, swallowing up opposing offenses week in and week out. They held rival Ohio State in check, an impressive feat against one of the best offenses in football.
They nearly rank top-30 in every defensive category, one that includes a top-10 rank in Def. Finishing Drives. Even if Iowa somehow lucks into decent field position, it will struggle to put up points on the Michigan defense past the 40-yard line.
Michigan will once again find success on defense, as Iowa comes in as one of the all-around worst offenses in football. With Iowa owning below-average ranks in every offensive category, Michigan should have zero excuses for Iowa gaining any serious yardage, let alone scoring.
On the Michigan end, it has been every under bettor’s dream this season. The Wolverines are methodical and slow, wearing down opponents with their dynamic duo in the run game for small chunks at a time. Michigan has zero explosiveness, limited passing, and plays at a slow pace.
Better yet, the Wolverines also remain the top team nationally in Havoc Allowed. Facing one of the most protective and efficient offensive units in football, turnovers will come at a premium, even against luck-box Iowa.
Iowa will pose a challenge for the Michigan offense, as it’s also a great defensive unit. Relying on turnover luck and flipping the field on early stoppages, Iowa will give Michigan fits as it searches for answers on how to break this defense.
With Michigan playing at its usual style and trying to figure out this defense, I believe this shows some value to a first-half under. Iowa should in no way contribute to points on the board, making this a one-sided affair.
If Michigan is slowed down more than it already is and we can avoid more Iowa turnover luck, then this should be a sweat-free hit.