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Big Ten Championship Game Preview: Iowa vs. Michigan

We make a pick for the Big Ten Championship.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The No. 2 Michigan Wolverines face the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday, December 2. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. ET, and the game will air on Fox. Michigan enters as a 23-point favorite, with the total set at 35.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Here’s everything you need to know and a pick for the game.

Iowa (10-2, 7-2 B1G) No. 38 FPI, No. 31 SP+

The Iowa Hawkeyes have put together one of the oddest, ugliest 10-win seasons in recent memory, but they got those 10 wins. The Hawkeyes boast one of the best defenses in the nation, but are backed up by an offense that struggles to get positive yardage, let alone touchdowns.

Iowa’s two losses this season came at the hands of Penn State and Minnesota. Penn State was a blowout, but the Minnesota loss came by just two points. The Hawkeyes rank fourth in the nation in yards in opponents’ points allowed per game (see: the very low total for this matchup) with an average of 12.2, and rank ninth in passing yards allowed per game with an average of 174.3.

However, the Hawkeyes have managed to score 18 points per game on average — and not all of those points can be attributed to their anemic offense. Quarterback Deacon Hill, who took over for Cade McNamara after a season-ending injury, has thrown five TDs and six interceptions this season. The offense is responsible for 20 total touchdowns this season, which averages out to 1.67 TDs per game.

Michigan (12-0, 9-0 B1G) No. 2 FPI, No. 1 SP+

Through scandal, scrutiny, and six coach-less games, Michigan has remained undefeated and capped off their season with a third straight win over Ohio State in Week 13. JJ McCarthy passed for 148 yards and a touchdown, and Blake Corum added 88 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The defense finished the day with two interceptions.

Michigan reached the CFP last year before falling to TCU, and they have just one more game standing between them and a second chance. Jim Harbaugh will be allowed to return to the sidelines in the postseason and will be present in Indianapolis.

The Wolverines floated through most of their schedule before buckling down in November to beat Penn State, Maryland, and Ohio State. Their defense ranks No. 1 in the country in points allowed per game (10.3) and No. 2 in passing yards allowed per game (155.3). We can expect a battle between two top defenses here, but Michigan is the only team that has the offense to back it up.

Odds at DraftKings Sportsbook

Spread: Michigan -22
Total: 35
Moneyline: Michigan -2800, Iowa +1300

Weather

Lucas Oil Stadium is indoors.

Don’t forget before you bet

  • Iowa is 2-10 on vs. the over this year, and Michigan is 6-5-1
  • Both teams are 6-5-1 against the spread this season
  • Iowa lost to Penn State 31-0, and is projected to score less than seven points in this game

Best bets for Big Ten Championship Game

Michigan -22

This is going to look a lot like the Penn State game. Iowa’s dismal offense going up against a very good defense — sign-stealing or not — is going to play out disastrously for the Hawkeyes. If Michigan can score 23 points, the Wolverines will cover and head to the College Football Playoff for the second year in a row.