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The Iowa Hawkeyes will host the fourth-ranked Michigan Wolverines for the first time in three years. What can we expect when two great Big Ten defenses collide? Handicapper Matt MacKay is here to make his predictions.

Iowa vs. Michigan Prediction, Pick, and Odds: Can J.J. McCarthy and Michigan Light Up the Scoreboard?

Michigan survived its first scare of the season against Maryland in Week 4, falling behind 13-10 in the second quarter. The Wolverines mounted a strong comeback effort in the second half with junior running back Blake Corum ripping off a monstrous 30 carries for 243 yards and two touchdowns. J.J. McCarthy has stepped up as the unquestioned QB1 after Cade McNamara suffered a leg injury against UConn in Week 3.

Iowa has found ways to win football games with an elite defense, great special teams, and a big play here and there from its offense. Senior quarterback Spencer Petras only has a 51 percent completion rate and one touchdown, yet the Hawkeyes have managed to score 27 points in consecutive wins against Nevada and Rutgers. Leshon Williams and Kaleb Johnson are the primary ball carriers in Kirk Ferentz's pro-style offensive scheme.

These teams have played each other closely in their previous two matchups. Can Michigan get its offense humming early? Here are our picks, predictions, and odds for Saturday's game between Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Michigan Wolverines.


Date: Saturday, October 1

Game time: 12:00 pm ET

Where to Watch: FOX


Spread: Iowa +10.5 (-110), Michigan -10.5 (-110)

Total: Over 42.5 (-105), Under 42.5 (-115)

Moneyline: Iowa (+320), Michigan (-390)

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No injuries to report.


LB Nikhai Hill-Green (DTD - Undisclosed), LT Karsen Barnhart (DTD - Ankle), LG Trevor Keegan (DTD - Undisclosed), QB Cade McNamara (Out - Leg)


The Big Ten West will compete against the Big Ten East during Big Noon Kickoff on FOX in a gritty Week 5 matchup. Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City will be the site for two strong defenses that have stifled opposing offenses through the first four weeks of the 2022 college football season.

Iowa is ranked first in the nation in opponent points per game, allowing only 5.8 points during its first four games. Yes, these include teams like South Dakota State, Nevada, and Rutgers. Their only loss came in a disappointing 10-7 loss against Iowa State, where the Hawkeyes defense forced three turnovers but allowed Cyclones quarterback Hunter Dekkers to find his talented wideout, Xavier Hutchinson, on an eight-yard touchdown pass in the final nine minutes of the game. They held Iowa State to 41 carries for 129 yards and zero touchdowns on the ground, which is encouraging against the talented pro-style offense that Michigan deploys.

Michigan's defense has been nearly as good as Iowa's to start the year. The Wolverines are ranked inside the top ten in terms of opponent points allowed per game, surrendering 11.0 points on average to rank seventh in the nation. It's important to factor in the strength of the schedule, which shows us that Michigan has played the third-easiest (129th) group of opponents. We saw Maryland test them early with Taulia Tagovailoa completing 20 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown. The Terrapins' rushing attack was able to hold its own, averaging roughly 4.0 YPC and a touchdown. It was ultimately the turnover battle that allowed Michigan to prevail, as the secondary forced two interceptions and recovered Maryland's only fumble.

Let's get into the recent history between Iowa and Michigan. These teams have split the series in their previous two matchups. Michigan won 10-3 in Ann Arbor during their last meeting in 2019, while Iowa won 14-13 in Iowa City to hand Michigan its first loss of the season back in 2016. Both games went well under the current 42.5-point total allocated for Saturday's contest at Iowa.

The Hawkeyes' only straight-up loss this season came at home against the Iowa State Cyclones. Iowa is 2-2 against the spread overall, but 1-2 against the spread at home. Michigan enters its first road contest of the 2022 season with a 2-2 record against the spread, as they failed to cover against Maryland in Week 4. The Wolverines beat up on a pair of Mountain West teams to open the season and scored over 50 points in each of its first three games. As soon as they faced a Big Ten opponent, the offense looked much more pedestrian.

J.J. McCarthy is a sophomore quarterback but he's looked polished, playing a clean game against Maryland, posting a 69.2 percent completion rate for 220 yards and two touchdowns. While it's nice to see McCarthy play up to expectation, the Wolverines' offense runs through Blake Corum. The junior running back just handled 30 carries and averaged 8.1 YPC en route to over 240 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns. Wideouts Cornelius Johnson and Ronnie Bell will need to step up against a stingy Iowa defense to prevent loaded boxes against Corum. Tight end Luke Schoonmaker is Michigan's second-leading receiver and had the best outing of any Wolverines pass-catcher against Maryland. He could be the deciding factor for Michigan to come out of Iowa City with a win.

These teams are both loaded on defense and the offenses mirror each other with a pro-style scheme. Michigan has superior offensive personnel, however, which is a big reason why they are -390 moneyline favorites. Still, this number has moved down from -425 and should continue to be monitored. Neither team dominates the other historically and Michigan looked vulnerable at times against Maryland last week. This eliminates betting the 10.5-point spread that the Wolverines are receiving. I like the under 42.5-point total as the best bet to make in this gritty Big Ten matchup.


  • Pick: Under 42.5 (-110)

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Article Author


Matt is an avid writer, editor, and researcher. He enjoys analyzing the game within the game which is fantasy sports and sports betting. Music is another constant in his daily life. Matt loves spending time with his wife and three pets. He likes to read, listen to podcasts, and is constantly motivated to create the most accurate and engaging content in the sports betting industry.

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