Can Iowa Break Big Ten West’s Big Ten Title Game Drought?

Can Iowa Break Big Ten West’s Big Ten Title Game Drought?
Fact Checked by Pat McLoone

It’s been more than a decade since a team from the Big Ten West (or Leaders Division) last won the Big Ten’s championship game. That is a feat that the Iowa Hawkeyes are looking to pull off in Indianapolis on Saturday evening. How are folks interested in Iowa sports betting feeling headed into the game?

Well, the task for Kirk Ferentz’s team is a tall one. The Hawkeyes enter Saturday’s conference title game against 12-0 Michigan as a 23.5-point underdog at ESPN BET Iowa, with the team at ESPN Analytics giving Iowa a 7.4% chance of upsetting the second-ranked team in the nation.

The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, are looking to score their fifth consecutive win, adding Michigan to a list that includes the Nebraska Cornhuskers, Illinois Fighting Illini, Rutgers Scarlet Knights and Northwestern Wildcats.

If Ferentz’s team can do so, it will become the first team from the West to win the conference championship game since the conference split off into directional divisions in 2014.

Here is a look at the dismal history for Iowa and its Big Ten West brethren.

Big 10 Title Games Since 2014

YearResult
2022Michigan 43, Purdue 22
2021Michigan 42, IOWA 3
2020Ohio State 22, Northwestern 10
2019Ohio State 34, Wisconsin 21
2018Ohio State 45, Northwestern 24
2017Ohio State 27, Wisconsin 21
2016Penn State 38, Wisconsin 31
2015Michigan State 16, IOWA 13
2014Ohio State 59, Wisconsin 0

 

Next West Winner Will Be First

During that timeframe, no Big Ten West team has come within 10 points of their eastern rivals since Wisconsin lost to Ohio State (27-21) in 2017. The last five West champs have been outscored by a total of 106 points (or 21.2 points per game on average).

Ahead of Saturday’s title game, IowaBets.com – your source for Iowa sports betting apps - broke down the odds on the Hawkeyes’ chances against the Wolverines inside Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium, in a game that kicks off at 7 p.m. Central time on FOX.

Can Iowa Snap Big Ten West’s Skid?

The main question for the Hawkeyes on Saturday is whether their anemic offense can score enough points to stay in the game against the Wolverines. Iowa averages 18 points per game, good for 124th in the nation. While Iowa’s defense has been nothing short of superb, with the nation’s fourth-best scoring defense (12.2 PPG), the Hawkeyes will be pushed to their limits by a Michigan offense that ranks 13th nationally in scoring (37.6) and tops nationally in scoring defense (10.3).

Despite giving up 24 points in consecutive games against Ohio State and Maryland, the Wolverines’ defense has been sublime in 2023, holding each of their other 10 opponents to 15 points or less.

Throw in the fact that Iowa hasn’t scored more than 25 points since beating Michigan State, 26-16, on Sept. 30 and you have the recipe for a long night for Iowa Saturday. Earlier this season, the Hawkeyes parted ways with offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz, the son of the head coach.

We’ll find out whether the Hawkeyes are up for the challenge on Saturday evening. For now, though, we can say that Iowa has a fighting chance against the Wolverines, given their defensive tenacity and the whirlwind nature of conference title games each December. 

If you are looking to bet on the game, make sure to have an Iowa sports betting promo code handy.

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Author

Christopher Boan is a lead writer at IowaBets.com specializing in covering state issues. He has covered sports and sports betting in Arizona for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.