No. 2 Michigan shuts out No. 16 Iowa to punch 3rd straight College Football Playoff ticket

Funnily enough, everyone could have told you what was coming from No. 2 Michigan and No. 16 Iowa in the Big Ten title game. Right down to Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti getting jeered and Jim Harbaugh saluting the crowd like a wartime emperor.

Like many Big Ten teams, the Wolverines overwhelmed the Iowa offense in a 26-0 win on Saturday, punching their ticket to a third straight College Football Playoff. This year's most controversial college football team will learn their next game when the committee announces the field on Sunday.

The game saw the return of Harbaugh from the Big Ten's three-game suspension for Michigan's sign-stealing scandal, a topic that was still clearly on Wolverines fans' minds when they loudly booed Pettiti during the trophy presentation.

Petitti was spared having to hand his conference's prize to the man he suspended a month ago when Harbaugh opted to have injured offensive lineman Zak Zinter accept the trophy. However, the coach still played to the crowd, answering his first question on the podium with the refrain his players tweeted following his suspension.


Michigan dominated the Iowa offense, as expected

Iowa finished the game with 155 total yards and three turnovers, another low point in a season that has already seen offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz be told he won't return in 2024. The Hawkeyes struggling against the Michigan defense was predictable, the bigger question was if the Wolverines would break through an Iowa defense and special teams that carried the team to a 10-2 record.

It turned out special teams was the bigger opening, to the pain of head coach Kirk Ferentz. Michigan's biggest break of the first half came at the end of Iowa's second drive, when Semaj Morgan returned All-American Tory Taylor's punt 87 yards to the 5-yard line, a Big Ten championship record.

Two short Blake Corum runs later, Michigan had a 10-0 lead.

The rest of the first half was classic three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust: punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, punt, punt, punt, punt, end of half. Michigan outgained Iowa 111-61 and entered halftime in full control, even with only a 10-point lead.

That lead increased in controversial fashion early in the third quarter, when Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill was ruled to have fumbled on a play initially called an incomplete pass. The younger Ferentz was visibly livid on the sideline, but the officials decided there was clear evidence Hill lost control of the ball before his arm moved forward.

One more Corum run, and it was 17-0 Michigan. Considering Iowa had scored more than 17 points once in its last six games, all against inferior teams, the game was pretty much over at that point.

Michigan's bizarre, unstoppable season rolls on

The legal drama that has been Michigan's season is now all but guaranteed to reach the sport's biggest stage. Harbaugh has seen his reputation take a villainous turn with two different three-game suspensions this season, the first from the NCAA for recruiting violations and the second from the Big Ten for the sign-stealing scandal.

None of that has stopped Michigan on the field. No team in college football has been as consistently dominant as the Wolverines this season, and the only question they now face is if they'll receive the No. 1 seed in the playoff.

Michigan's win also means the Big Ten East will stay undefeated in the conference title game. Since realigning into East and West divisions, Michigan (three times), Ohio State (five), Michigan State and Penn State have combined to go 10-0 in Indianapolis.