Going into last weekend, it looked like the Big Ten championship was going to be between Ohio State and Wisconsin. Then hell froze over in the Big Ten, and it had nothing to do with cold Midwest temperatures.
Michigan beat Ohio State as a 7.5-point underdog to win the Big Ten East and Iowa came back from a 15-point deficit to topple Nebraska. Later that day, Minnesota beat Wisconsin as a seven-point underdog to hand Iowa the Big Ten West divisional crown.
Now that the dust has settled from an exciting Thanksgiving weekend, 11-1 Michigan (2) is a heavy favorite against 10-2 Iowa (15) in a neutral site Big Ten Championship game. Of all the conference championship games, Michigan ranks with an undefeated Cincinnati team as the largest favorite this weekend.
But do the Wolverines deserve the hype? Let’s dive in with our Big Ten Championship predictions and best bets.
Please note that all odds and lines are current as of Tuesday, November 30 at 4 PM EST.
Michigan vs Iowa Big Ten Championship Prediction
Looking at the gauntlet that Michigan had to go through to win the Big Ten East, it makes sense why they are favored to win on Saturday. Not only did they have to beat Ohio State last weekend, but they also needed wins against Penn State and Wisconsin.
Of UM’s 11 wins, three of them came against teams with higher ESPN FPI power ratings than Iowa (Ohio State, Wisconsin, and Penn State). Their only loss was against a strong Michigan State team.
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Iowa, on the other hand, has had the benefit of playing in the weaker Big Ten West. Even though the Hawkeyes had a 6-3 conference record, none of their conference opponents are currently ranked in the AP top 25.
Both teams are outstanding defensively, ranking among the top teams in the nation with just over 17 points per game allowed. Michigan is much stronger offensively, however, averaging a robust 37.3 points per game compared to Iowa’s middling 25.7.
While that might lead you to think Michigan will win big here, Iowa’s defense disagrees. The Wolverines run the ball over 60% of the time, but the Hawkeyes are ceding a mere three yards per carry. That will make it difficult for Michigan’s offense to push the ball on the ground and allow Iowa to keep the game close.
Michigan should be favored against Iowa, but I believe that the winner of the Big Ten Championship will win by one touchdown. I’m expecting a close, low-scoring game where Iowa has a plausible path to victory.
Michigan vs Iowa Prediction: Michigan 24, Iowa 17
Michigan vs Iowa Big Ten Championship Best Bets
Best Bet: Iowa +10.5 (-115) at DraftKings (would bet up to +7.5)
Wager: 1.5 Units
Based on Michigan’s strong body of work and their upset of Ohio State, I was expecting them to be favored against Iowa, but not by 10.5 points on our CFB gameday odds. Iowa is a formidable defensive team that keeps games within reach.
For the Wolverines to cover a 10.5 point spread, their rushing offense must break through Iowa’s stout run defense. While it’s reasonable to expect Michigan to contain Iowa’s lackluster offense, it is not reasonable to expect them to pile up points.
Underdog points on the spread are more valuable in a low-scoring game due to the smaller distribution of potential scores. At +10.5 points, Iowa should cover and might even win.
Best Bet: Iowa Moneyline (+350) at Caesars (would bet up to +275)
Wager: 0.75 Units
If I didn’t already have a +4000 Iowa Big Ten championship ticket that I placed on FOX Bet last week I would put 0.75 units on their moneyline as well.
With Iowa’s style of play, their weak offense shouldn’t keep them out of the game. They are likely to limit Michigan to fewer than 30 points and could win if they get some key turnovers.
It’s a stretch, but at +350 this is a hefty potential profit that shouldn’t be ignored. It’s worth rolling the dice on for our CFB bet of the day.
Thanks for reading our Big Ten Championship Predictions & Best Bets! For more CFB betting tips, check out our CFB Conference Championship Predictions.