In the 2021 edition of the Big Ten Championship, Michigan is favored by 11 points over the Iowa Hawkeyes. That's a big number for a championship game, which has U-M fans in a frenzy ahead of the showdown in Indianapolis. It's a massive game that could change the trajectory of Michigan's program under Jim Harbaugh, which makes predicting it a lot of fun.
I've feel like a broken record at this point, but the confidence I feel in Michigan carries over from week to week for one very specific reason: mental toughness.
Led by veterans like Aidan Hutchinson, Josh Ross, Ronnie Bell, Andrew Vastardis and more - this Michigan team is operating at championship level and I don't believe there's a single team in the Big Ten that could stop them now.
Michigan 38, Iowa 16
Michigan got over a massive hurdle last weekend by beating Ohio State, but the job is not finished and leaders like Aidan Hutchinson and Josh Ross know that. That mental toughness has been there in spades all season for U-M and I think it will show up against this weekend in Indianapolis.
This team, this year, these seniors and captains won't let the Wolverines come up short. After watching the maize and blue beat up on Ohio State last weekend, I now firmly believe that.
I also think this is a really bad matchup for Iowa. The Hawkeyes give up a lot of sacks — hello David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson — and really struggle to score points. The Hawkeyes are near the bottom of the entire country when it comes to all facets of offensive football. One of the only reasons they've been able to win 10 games this year is because they force a lot of turnovers, which have led directly to touchdowns by the defense, or to scoring opportunities for the offense on a short field. Michigan flat out doesn't turn the ball over and even when they do, like last week against Ohio State, they're good enough and solid enough everywhere else to overcome it. Unless Michigan completely crumbles and turns it over multiple times, I think they're going to win convincingly.
Michigan 38, Iowa 16
To borrow a line from Jim Harbaugh’s past, Michigan’s performance in its 42-27 win against Ohio State was the team’s ‘finest hour.’ Each and every one of Hassan Haskins' 169 rushing yards represented sheer dominance on the ground and in the trenches — the exact reverse of recent matchups against the Buckeyes. Similarly, strong open field tackling by the Wolverines’ defense combined with a successful scheme to create a surprising limit on Ohio State’s game-changing chunk plays. All of this is true, and that is why No. 2 Michigan is playing No. 13 Iowa in Indianapolis this Saturday.
If the Wolverines can come even close to matching their most recent performance, Saturday’s contest will be over by the fourth quarter. Iowa proved itself resilient by winning four straight games after back-to-back losses against Purdue and Wisconsin, but the Hawkeyes roster doesn’t even come close to stacking up against Ohio State’s. And yet, it seems entirely possible that the Big Ten Championship will be a fight to the end. Michigan must fight the emotional let down coming off of the program’s biggest win in a decade, and Iowa’s defense is strong enough to keep things incredibly close if the Wolverines’ offense does not bring the same intensity as it did against the Buckeyes. Michigan has shown it truly is different than years past, but Saturday’s matchup will be another test of just how different this team is. With a College Football Playoff Berth on the line, the Wolverines will need to play aggressively and without making costly mistakes to cash in on their opportunity. I think they will do just that.
Michigan 31, Iowa 17
Michigan finally did the unthinkable and beat Ohio State but as players warned this week, they don’t have their name on any trophy yet. It would be a major letdown to not bring home a Big Ten title after everything they’ve achieved this season and I think they finish the job in Indianapolis.
Iowa doesn’t present anywhere near the offensive threat that Ohio State did. Iowa does not have a dynamic quarterback or playmaker in the passing game. They’ve also allowed 31 sacks this year and I expect David Ojabo and Aidan Hutchinson to feast and each get at least one sack.
Iowa is a stingy team defensively and it may be a little tougher for Michigan to move the ball. The first half may stay close if the Wolverines have a bit of a hangover from the Buckeyes. But at some point, Michigan is going to have some breakthroughs offensively and I just don’t think the Hawkeyes have the firepower to keep up.
Michigan wins easily and rolls into the playoffs.
Michigan 31, Iowa 14