Big Ten Championship Expert Pick and Prediction – December 2, 2023
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP EXPERT PICK AND PREDICTION – DECEMBER 2, 2023 – If the Big 12 represents the case for divisions deciding the conference title game, the Big Ten represents the case against. On one hand, we’ve got Michigan, undefeated and hardly scratched, despite having to face both Ohio State and Penn State out of the Big Ten East.
On the other hand, Iowa managed to win a bad Big Ten West that had just two other bowl-eligible teams out of six. As a whole, the West held its own against the East with an 8-13 record, but that’s deceptive. The West went 0-9 against the three Eastern giants of Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, including Iowa’s 31-0 loss to Penn State that saw the Nittany Lions held the Hawkeyes to 76 yards.
Not one team from the West came within 14 points of any of the Eastern giants. Iowa’s chances to change that don’t look good. The Hawkeyes come into this game having barely survived Nebraska and not having scored more than 22 points in almost two months. Much was made about the “Drive for 325”, representing the 325 points needed to keep Brian Ferentz’s job, but the Hawkeyes came up over 100 points short, scoring just 216 for the season.
For the year, Iowa averaged 14.6 points a game in Big Ten play. Michigan, conversely, played three Western opponents and dropped at least 41 on all of them. Only Penn State has held the Wolverines under 30, which means Iowa’s only chance appears to be if Michigan holds back for the playoff.
(12-0 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
(10-2 SU, 6-5-1 ATS)
When: Saturday, December 2nd at 8 p.m. EST
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis
Public Bets: 56% on Michigan
Public Money: 82% on Michigan
Odds courtesy of DraftKings, as of November 29th, 2023
Michigan vs. Iowa In-Season Trends
You’ve almost got to feel sorry for the sportsbook employee who’s trying to set a number for Iowa football. No matter what they do, they cannot set this number low enough for the Hawkeyes.
Iowa has gone under in eight out of nine Big Ten games, with the one exception being when Michigan State returned an interception for a touchdown and got the number over the 36.5 total. Iowa hasn’t seen a game rise above the 20s since October 7 against Purdue (which went under an almost comically high for Iowa 38.5).
Michigan started the year as an under team, going under the total in four straight to begin the season. But since then, the Wolverines have gone 6-1-1 to the over, mostly because they’ve decided to just hit the number on their own. In four Big Ten games (two against the West), the Wolverines cashed the total without needing a single point from the opposition to get there.
The biggest question for Michigan is how do the Wolverines want to approach this game? Both Iowa’s run defense and pass defense are good, but the Hawkeyes also haven’t faced a good offense all year. Nobody in the West qualifies, and Iowa was fortunate to draw Rutgers and Michigan State out of the East, the two weakest offenses in that division. The final Big Ten game, Penn State, also doesn’t really count because the Nittany Lions have shown their offense is only good against overmatched foes.
So Michigan can really pick its strength here. Blake Corum should get plenty of work as he closes in on 1,000 yards for the season, and J.J. McCarthy might well get a chance to show exactly why Cade McNamara headed off to Iowa after McCarthy won the competition of quarterbacks. It’s really up to Jim Harbaugh.
The temperatures won’t be horrible for December in Indiana at 48 degrees, but that’s not high enough to open the roof, so this game will be played indoors.
It’s difficult to see how Iowa gets anything done here. The Hawkeyes don’t have an offense and haven’t had one all season. Nothing has really changed for Iowa from two years ago. Michigan pounded the Hawkeyes from start to finish in Indianapolis and won 42-3. That might happen again.
The best bet on the board might be to take Michigan’s team total over 29.5 at even money. The number of 34.5 is reachable, but there’s a good chance that the Wolverines might have to do all of the scoring themselves. Given that and the fact that you can actually get even money on the Hawkeyes never finding the end zone, I don’t see a reason to bother with the game total on the off-chance that Iowa scores.
Michigan TTO 29.5