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Big 10 Championship: Can Michigan Take Care Of Business?

BetQL breaks down the Big 10 Championship game between Michigan and Iowa

Michigan Wolverines

Jim Harbaugh has a chance to rewrite a disappointing tale that has haunted him up to this point in his college coaching career. He can make the college football playoff with one more victory against the Iowa Hawkeyes, and have a chance at a National Championship. He exercised his demons against Ohio State, finally beating them on his sixth attempt. This is his best team he has had at Michigan, and this game will define his legacy. If he loses this game, I'm not sure how he can survive the immense amount of scrutiny he will face for never being able to get the job done when he needs to. The good news is, he has a very good team with tons of talent to help him get the job done.

Perhaps the most important thing about Michigan is that they don't turn the ball over, which will be imperative in a game against Iowa, who is second in the nation in forcing turnovers. This year, they gave away two fumbles against Northwestern and won easily, and turned it over twice against Michigan State which was the only time that it really hurt them in any way. Iowa's offense is not very good at all, so there is no reason to play loose with the football or take big chances down the field against this tough defense.

This is also a total mismatch in the most important area of the field, the trenches. The Michigan defensive front should dominate a poor Hawkeye offensive line that allows far too many plays to be made in the backfield. The Wolverines offensive line leads the nation in fewest tackles for loss allowed and doesn’t give up many sacks.

The Wolverines are the better team, and they are favored by -11. Michigan was constantly underestimated by the oddsmakers this season and ended up leading the nation with a 10-2 ATS record. According to our BetQL model, they are 6-3 ATS in their last nine games against the Hawkeyes. 

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Iowa Hawkeyes

The defense of Iowa should at least give them a serious shot to cover 11 points. Iowa was ranked No. 2 in the nation at one point this season, and they belong here playing with the big boys. Yes, the offense stinks and was the worst in the entire conference for much of the college football season, but they are 10-2. Getting to double-digit wins with the worst offense in your conference should tell you something about just how good the defense is. As previously mentioned, Iowa is second in the entire country in takeaways and seems to take advantage of every mistake the opposing team makes. They didn't have as many against some of the better teams like Purdue, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, but they got back on track against Illinois and hapless Nebraska.

Iowa is a team that will control the ball on you, a team that is going to grind you down physically, and a team that is not going to turn the ball over. They lead the Big 10 in turnover margin at +13, and they also don't commit many penalties.

The Hawkeyes are 12-6 ATS in their last 18 games and 5-0 ATS in their last five games against the East Division. Don't count out Iowa. If they want to have any shot at winning this football game, they will need to force turnovers and do what they do best all game long. A complete effort is needed to win the Big 10 Championship for Iowa.

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Iowa vs. Michigan Prediction

This is a very tough call. I think Michigan wins the game, but the spread is 11, and that is a lot. Iowa has yet to allow a single team to score over 27 points on them all season, which leads me to pick them +11 because I think it will be a low-scoring game. However, Michigan is a far better team than what Iowa has seen this season, so that could make all the difference. At +11, I will take Iowa, but I think at anything below 10 I'd take Michigan.

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