Conference championship week has officially kicked off in college football and we saw a pair of champions crowned last night as Liberty defeated New Mexico State in the Conference USA title game and #3 Washington held off #5 Oregon in the final Pac-12 championship game to be played.
That one is of particular interest as not only with both participants be in the Big Ten next season, but Washington entered the night as a double-digit underdog to Oregon. Despite being ranked inside the top-4 and running the table in the regular season, they played a tight game a week ago and were counted out by virtually everyone.
That narrative should sound familiar to Hawkeye fans as Iowa enters today as the biggest underdog of the weekend. While the Hawkeyes have managed to do just enough in all but one game this season (lest we forget that Iowa did do enough to beat Minnesota but had the game ripped away from them), the stink of the offense has tainted their image in the eyes of essentially everyone save those inside the building.
In most seasons, a team that’s lost four of its best players over the course of the season, including a starting QB, seen every starting offensive lineman miss time due to injury, played without a key cog on the defensive line, would be the type of Cinderella story college football fans would flock to. When that team is set to square off against a team disliked by most of the country for its arrogant fanbase and happens to be getting its head coach back from not his first, but his second suspension of the same season for cheating, it’s hard to envision how anyone wouldn’t be rooting for the underdog.
But Iowa is such an underdog that it seems nobody is even bothering to root. The world has counted this group out.
And for good reason. Michigan has looked the part of a repeat College Football Playoff contender all season. They’ve topped 30 points in every game of the year and until two weeks ago, hadn’t given up more than 17 on the year season. Quite simply, Michigan is college football royalty. Iowa isn’t even supposed to be here.
Which is exactly where Kirk Ferentz and the Hawkeyes have thrived for 25 years.
As we countdown to kickoff, here’s everything you need to know about today’s matchup.
Date: Saturday, December 2nd
Time: 7:00 pm CT
Matchup: #16 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2, 7-2) vs #2 Michigan Wolverines (12-0, 9-0)
Location: Lucas Oil Stadium - Indianapolis, IN
DraftKings Sportsbook Line: Michigan -22, O/U 35
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.
Keep an eye out for the availability report, which is set to be published around 5:00 pm CT. Recall that’s a new item in the Big Ten this season with availability reported two hours before game time.