Big Ten Championship Game - Iowa vs. Michigan
Saturday, Dec. 4
8 p.m., FOX
Michigan -10.5 (Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.)
How Michigan Got Here
The Wolverines were just looking to bounce back after a disasterous 2020 where they finished 2-4 and would have finished with an 0-5 ending to the season if not for a triple-overtime win against Rutgers. This season started with a 7-0 start, before a late collapse at Michigan State led to their first loss of the season. They would bounce back winning the last four games of the regular season, including the seismic victory against Ohio State that propelled them to the Big Ten Championship Game.
How Iowa Got Here
The Hawkeyes were the surprise of the first half of the season, climbing all the way to #2 in the AP Poll after a 7-0 start that included two top ten victories. Things came crashing down with two consecutive loses to Purdue and Wisconsin. However, they were able to survive four close games to finish 10-2, which led to the West Division title with the help of Minnesota taking down Wisconsin on Saturday.
Last Met/Recent History
Michigan bested Iowa in a defensive battle in 2019, winning 10-3. However, Iowa has a 5-2 edge going back to 2010.
Who to Watch When Michigan has the Ball
RB Hassan Haskins
A hard-nosed runner who gets stronger as the game stretches on. He will play a huge role on Saturday as Michigan attempts to ‘out-Iowa’ Iowa. Haskins comes in hot after his best game of the season, rushing for 169 yards and five touchdowns against the Buckeyes.
QB Cade McNamara
All credit to the Wolverines quarterback, who has gradually improved during the season and has emerged as a playmaker as of late. While Michigan relies heavily on the run, McNamara makes the most of his opportunities and regularly makes clutch throws.
DB Dane Belton
Iowa has a nation-best 22 interceptions, with Belton leading the team with five. The Hawkeyes will likely need to pick off multiple passes to leave Indianapolis with a victory.
Who to Watch When Iowa has the Ball
RB Tyler Goodson
Goodson is by far the biggest threat on the Hawkeyes offense. He has the versatility to grind out tough yards throughout the afternoon while regularly escaping for a big play. Goodson has 1,320 yards from scrimmage and seven touchdowns on the season.
DE Aiden Hutchinson
If I were in the Michigan Athletic Department, I’d be running a full-blown Heisman campaign for Hutchinson. In a season where no player has emerged and remained at the top of the list, Hutchinson continues to put together incredible performances in the biggest moments. He has 13 sacks on the season, and seems to be involved on just about every snap.
DE David Ojabo
With all that being said, it’s possible Hutchinson may not be the best defensive lineman on his own team. Ojabo has been a nightmare to contain, with 11 sacks and five forced fumbles on the year.
This should be a classic Big Ten battle heavy on runs between the tackles, swarming defenses and punting...you better believe there will be some punting of the highest quality in this game. This feels like a classic Iowa upset considering what is at stake, but especially, the fact that Michigan will need to come down and re-focus after a momentous and long overdue victory against Ohio State. It’s a difficult task, especially against a team like Iowa. But something just feels like this is the year for the Wolverines, and they will find a way to take care of business to propel them into the College Football Playoffs for the first time.
This should be a tight contest with a few big plays sprinkled in, but Michigan seals the deal with a clock-churning drive that ends with a touchdown to put the game away.