The Iowa Hawkeyes managed to do both the unthinkable and what we expected last week. Iowa entered last week’s matchup at 9-2 and as favorites over the Nebraska Cornhuskers. They had already met most Hawkeye fans’ preseason expectations for success and had a shot at more.
But at the same time, they did so with a slew of pivotal injuries and the worst offense in college football. So it was really no surprise that we saw the spread slide last week and end with the Cornhuskers favored by a field goal.
After Deacon Hill threw an interception on 3rd and 12 with less than a minute remaining in the game to set Nebraska up with the ball at midfield, it seemed like that field goal spread was right on the money. But Ethan Hurkett bailed out the Hawkeyes and Marshall Meeder sealed the deal with yet another game-winner for Iowa over the Huskers.
But now the Hawkeyes face their tallest task of the season. Iowa travels to Indianapolis to take on the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Championship Game for the second time in three seasons. The Wolverines are playing in their third straight title game and looking for a third straight College Football Playoff appearance.
They enter the week having scored at least 30 points in every game this season and averaging nearly 38 points per game on the season. Defensively, they’re one of only three teams in the country allowing fewer points per game than the Hawkeyes at just 10.25 points allowed per contest.
So how do the Hawkeyes avoid a repeat of the 42-3 disaster we saw the last time these two opponents faced off in the title game? Well, Vegas doesn’t think we do.
Our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook opened the line at Michigan -21.5 points this week, which is an even bigger spread than the last time these two faced off. Notably, that line has already jumped up to -23 on DK as the betting public has no faith the Hawkeyes can keep this one respectable.
DraftKings has the over/under set at 35.5 total points, which is a marked improvement from the last several weeks for the Hawkeyes. But that’s obviously driven entirely by the potent Wolverine offense, which is expected to be one of only two teams to get the best of the Iowa defense this season after Penn State became the only team to top 20 points in their 31-0 win back in October.
With 35.5 total points and the line at 23, the implied outcome from Vegas is Michigan 29.25, Iowa 6.25. While that seems brutal at first glance, it gives a bit of a nod to the Iowa defense as that would mark the first time Michigan is held under the 30 point mark all season. And on the offensive side of the ball, topping six points seems like a low bar, but given the dead last offensive ranks and the fact Michigan is giving up just over 10 points per game on the year, that may be a win. Especially considering a better Iowa offense managed only a field goal the last time they went to Indy.
If you’re into believing in miracles, the Hawkeyes are offered at +1100, meaning a $10 bet on Iowa to win would return $120. The moneyline and spread at DraftKings make Iowa the biggest underdogs in any conference championship game this season.
Iowa and Michigan are set to kick off at 7pm CT on Saturday. The game will be broadcast nationally on FOX.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.