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No. 2 Michigan Cruises to 42-3 Win over No. 13 Iowa to Earn 2021 Big Ten Championship

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 5, 2021

AP Photo/AJ Mast

The No. 2 Michigan football team is headed to the College Football Playoff.

The Wolverines defeated No. 13 Iowa 42-3 in the Big Ten Championship Game on Saturday from Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium. With the win, the Wolverines all but assured themselves of a CFP spot.

As usual, a strong running game and overwhelming defense led Michigan to victory.

The Wolverines rushed for 211 yards and four touchdowns, with Blake Corum's 67-yard scamper giving his team an early 6-0 edge.

FOX College Football @CFBONFOX

Blake Corum with the speed but how about J.J. McCarthy as the lead blocker 🤯⚡️<a href="https://twitter.com/UMichFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UMichFootball</a> takes the 7-0 lead over Iowa in the Big Ten Champ Game! <a href="https://t.co/GDjzmhdeeL">pic.twitter.com/GDjzmhdeeL</a>

Hassan Haskins added touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters, with the latter one giving Michigan a 27-3 lead.

It also gave Haskins the all-time school single-season rushing TD record after getting his 20th score:

FOX College Football @CFBONFOX

UP AND OVER FOR THE RECORD!<a href="https://twitter.com/H2_3125?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@h2_3125</a> picks up his 20th rushing TD of the season, a new <a href="https://twitter.com/UMichFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UMichFootball</a> record 👏👏 <a href="https://t.co/W4vNC9Okq5">pic.twitter.com/W4vNC9Okq5</a>

However, it was a running back's pass that turned out to be the play of the game, as Donovan Edwards threw a beautiful ball for a 75-yard touchdown to Roman Wilson in the second quarter.

FOX College Football @CFBONFOX

🔥 <a href="https://twitter.com/UMichFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UMichFootball</a> IS NOT HOLDING BACK IN THIS ONE! <a href="https://t.co/yuDng571yK">pic.twitter.com/yuDng571yK</a>

Iowa couldn't get much going on the ground or through the air, and Michigan ended up out-gaining the Hawkeyes 461-279. The Hawkeyes made a quarterback change midgame from Spencer Petras to Alex Padilla, but the Wolverines defense rendered that switch irrelevant.

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Erick All later added a slick five-yard catch for Michigan's penultimate touchdown.

FOX College Football @CFBONFOX

ALL HANDS TEAM 🙌<br><br>Erick All makes it 35-3 for <a href="https://twitter.com/UMichFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UMichFootball</a> <a href="https://t.co/R43J3KlLby">pic.twitter.com/R43J3KlLby</a>

Edwards later contributed a one-yard score for the Wolverine's final TD.

Michigan improved to 12-1 on the season, which marks the Wolverines' first outright Big Ten title since 2003. Iowa fell to 10-3.

        

Notable Performances

Michigan RB Hassan Haskins: 17 carries, 56 rushing yards, 2 TD

Michigan RB Blake Corum: 5 carries, 74 rushing yards, 1 TD

Michigan RB Donovan Edwards: 1-of-1, 75 passing yards, 1 TD; 1 rushing TD

Iowa QB Spencer Petras: 9-of-22, 137 passing yards

Iowa RB Tyler Goodson: 18 carries, 50 rushing yards

Iowa TE Sam LaPorta: 6 catches, 62 receiving yards

   

Hustle and Heart Lead Michigan to CFP

One play that didn't end up in the box score perfectly encapsulates the Wolverines' game as well as their season.

The record shows that Corum ran for a 67-yard touchdown to give Michigan a 6-0 first-quarter lead.

FOX College Football @CFBONFOX

Blake Corum with the speed but how about J.J. McCarthy as the lead blocker 🤯⚡️<a href="https://twitter.com/UMichFootball?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@UMichFootball</a> takes the 7-0 lead over Iowa in the Big Ten Champ Game! <a href="https://t.co/GDjzmhdeeL">pic.twitter.com/GDjzmhdeeL</a>

It was an incredible effort for a running back playing through a high-ankle sprain and limited with his snaps because of it.

However, that run wasn't even the best moment of the play. Rather, it was quarterback J.J. McCarthy flying down the sidelines to help provide blocking assistance for his teammate en route to the score.

His effort did not go unnoticed:

Aaron McMann @AaronMcMann

J.J. McCarthy damn near beat Blake Corum to the end zone there.

Chris Balas @Balas_Wolverine

J.J. McCarthy's wheels. Wow. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoBlue?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoBlue</a>

Stephen J. Nesbitt @stephenjnesbitt

J.J. McCarthy outrunning his running back to block downfield on a 67-yard touchdown run &gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;&gt;

That encapsulates the ethos of this team. The Wolverines fight hard and for each other. They are fast. They are tough. They are selfless. They are a team—one that is going to be a serious problem for its CFP opponent.

Not only that, but Michigan is a team littered with incredible individual talents. Aidan Hutchinson might be the No. 1 overall NFL draft pick next spring, and fellow edge-rusher David Ojabo might join him in the first round.

The offensive line is a force to be reckoned with, so much so that football legend John Madden reached out to head coach Jim Harbaugh to tell him as much after the win over Ohio State:

Clayton Sayfie @CSayf23

Jim Harbaugh says he got a text from John Madden after the Ohio State game.<br><br>"This is as good of an offensive line performance as he's seen," Harbaugh said of the text.<br><br>"I texted that to Sherrone and told him to keep that on his phone forever."

They have a formidable one-two punch in the running game with Haskins and Corum, and everything works in sync to form one hell of a team.

Alabama may be the clear championship favorite after dismantling No. 1 Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, but Michigan is a special team that won't go away easily.

     

Iowa's Once-Promising Season Ends With Thud, But Hawkeyes Should Keep Chins Up

A once-promising season with College Football Playoff hopes following a 6-0 start crashed and burned down the stretch, capped by Saturday's ugly 39-point defeat.

One can look at Iowa's 13-game season from two perspectives.

On the pessimistic side, the Hawkeyes went just 4-3 in their final seven games. Their three losses were by a combined 76 points to Michigan, Purdue and Wisconsin. Iowa scored just 17 points in those games.

Iowa's offense simply wasn't explosive enough this year. The Hawkeyes have a stout running game led by Tyler Goodson, but they didn't have the big-play threats needed to go blow-for-blow with teams that found offensive success against them.

The defense notably wilted at inopportune times as well. It all reached its nadir on Saturday, as Iowa allowed scoring plays of 67 and 75 yards in the first quarter en route to giving up 461 yards on the game.

On the optimistic side, Iowa had a 10-win season and made the conference championship game. Sure, the Big Ten West was a weak division this year, so much so that Iowa almost won its group by default. However, plenty of Big Ten teams would love to have 10-plus wins and make the conference title game, and the Hawkeyes did just that.

Credit Iowa for not folding after a two-game losing skid dropped the Hawkeyes out of the CFP picture entirely. Following the Purdue and Wisconsin defeats, Iowa responded with four straight wins. Granted, none of them came too easily, as three came by one-possession scores.

Regardless, Iowa showed fight down the stretch to make the conference championship game, and the Hawkeyes can hold their heads high knowing they gave it their all when other teams could have fallen apart entirely in that spot.

That doesn't make Saturday's result any easier, and it's clear that Iowa is a clear cut below the Big Ten elite of Michigan and Ohio State. The Wolverines were simply too talented on both sides of the ball, and that ended up being the difference.

Still, the bigger picture paints a rosier picture for Iowa overall. Other teams languish year after year and struggle to win more than a handful of games. Iowa has the luxury of being in the mix and earned a reputation of being a giant killer.

That's something Iowa can always hang its hat on, even if painful losses like the one to Michigan help cloud the broader truth about the program.

    

What's Next?

While it won't be official until Sunday, Michigan will be in the four-team College Football Playoff field with Alabama, Georgia and Cincinnati. The only thing left to determine at this point is the seeding.

The Wolverines' win also means that Ohio State will play Utah in the Rose Bowl.

Iowa was headed to the Rose Bowl with a win, but the Hawkeyes will head to another to-be-determined bowl following the loss.

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