No. 2 Michigan (11-1) finally earned a win over Ohio State, which earned the Wolverines their first ever berth into the Big Ten Championship game. Jim Harbaugh's squad will face the No. 13 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-2). If Michigan wins they are in the College Football Playoff. If the Wolverines get upset things will get very, very interesting on Sunday for the committee.
Here are our staff predictions for this matchup.
BRYAN DRISKELL, PUBLISHER
Prediction: Michigan 24, Iowa 10
This is a Michigan team that seems destined to be the Big Ten champs this season. Their pass defense is outstanding and teams that have run on them aren't usually as one-dimensional as Iowa. While the Hawkeyes have been incredibly opportunistic this season, this game looks like a mismatch in many ways.
Iowa's defense is quite good and I don't expect Michigan to light up the scoreboard, but quarterback Cade McNamara has been money in their two biggest games (a loss to MSU, a win over Ohio State) and I expect him to make enough plays to get Michigan past 20 points.
That should be all the Wolverines need against an Iowa offense that ranked 87th in the country in scoring offense. Michigan, of course, ranked 8th this season in scoring defense.
Unless Iowa can figure out ways to create some big plays on offense, and the defense can do what it does best (force a lot of turnovers) I don't expect this one to be all that close.
VINCE DEDARIO, FOOTBALL ANALYST
Prediction: Michigan 17, Iowa 10
Michigan slayed the Ohio State dragon last week while Iowa did what it needed to do against a hapless Nebraska to backdoor themselves into the Big10 Title game thanks in large part to the utter collapse of Wisconsin. Many fans wanted to see a Wisconsin Michigan rematch but there are plenty out there that think the Iowa Michigan matchup could be a heck of a lot closer. Defense will be on display all day in Indianapolis and this should be a fairly low scoring game, especially if Iowa has any shot of winning this game. Look for a decent chunk of turnovers as well. This one might be closer than some think but the Wolverines should pull it out.
ANDREW MCDONOUGH, IB CONTRIBUTOR
Prediction: Michigan 16, Iowa 13
Michigan comes off an extremely emotional win over archrival Ohio State last weekend and has to take on a physical Iowa team in Indianapolis. Michigan is the more talented team, but has struggled this season against teams with strong defenses. Iowa will focus on taking away the Wolverine rushing attack, and this game will come down to whether Michigan QB Cade McNamara can protect the ball against a Hawkeye defense that leads the nation with 22 interceptions. Iowa will keep this game close, but the Hawkeye offense will not be able to put enough points on the board to hold up its end of the bargain.
SHAUN DAVIS, ESPN CHICAGO
Prediction: Michigan 34, Iowa 17
Jim Harbaugh can put the final nail in the coffin of his naysayers with a win in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Wolverines are coming off their most impressive win during the Harbaugh era after beating rival Ohio State 42-27 at home. It was Michigan’s first win over the Buckeyes since 2011 and only the fourth time since 2000.
The Hawkeyes started the season strong with a 6-0 record while reaching the No. 2 spot in the polls before losing to Purdue and Wisconsin consecutively. Since then, the Hawkeyes have won four straight including a dramatic comeback win against Nebraska. More than likely, a Big Ten championship would send them to the Rose Bowl.
The Hawkeyes have created 28 turnovers this season ranking them 3rd nationally, and they will need to continue that trend to keep a Wolverines offense hell bent on running the ball and controlling the clock while doing so.
RYAN ROBERTS, RISENDRAFT
Prediction: Iowa 21, Michigan 20
A week after finally getting over the Ohio State hump, Michigan has a major letdown against an “inferior” Iowa team. This is going to be an ugly one. Team to make the least amount of mistakes wins.
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