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#2 Michigan 42, #13 Iowa 3: Inevitable

The Hawkeyes missed an opportunity early, gave up two uncharacteristic big plays, and couldn’t dig themselves out of the hole

NCAA Football: Big Ten Football Championship-Iowa vs Michigan Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The #13 Iowa Hawkeyes (10-3) struggled in the red zone and yielded big plays on defense, as the #2 Michigan Wolverines (12-1) won the Big Ten Championship, 42-3.

Iowa’s effort started well enough, with a defensive three-and-out followed by a deliberate drive inside the red zone. Brian Ferentz dialed up a running back pass, which was well-executed outside of the fact that Gavin Williams threw it a couple feet over a stumbling Monte Pottebaum. It was around this time FOX flashed a graphic which said Iowa was bottom 4 in the conference at red zone scoring (73%) and the absolute worst at turning those possessions into TDs (44% of the time).

Needless to say, it set the stage for the how the rest of the game would play out. A team like Iowa - nay, and offense like Iowa - needs to capitalize on those chances and simply didn’t.

And oh, yeah, this possession resulted in a missed 33-yard field goal from Caleb Shudak.

In the following three-ish minutes, Michigan turned the game into a 14-0 affair, after Blake Corum flashed his shiftiness, power, and speed to take a run 67 yards to the house. Iowa’s first three-and-out was followed with a 75-yard double pass on the first play of Michigan’s third possession.

At that point, it turned into an effort to keep it in reach and, to the Hawkeyes’ credit, they did. The next drive was much like Iowa’s first, except this one saw the field goal through the uprights. 14-3.

The defense then turned the Wolverines over on a tipped pass which landed in Jack Campbell’s hands.

Yet Iowa played more like a team desperate to get the game to half than one actually trying to score. Their 4 drives before half all started with relatively good field position but they ran just 16 plays in them. Tory Taylor was able to pin Michigan regularly inside their 10, but UM eventually flipped it a bit and gave a college try’s Hail Mary Iowa didn’t look particularly ready for (nobody set up at the goal line). Thankfully, Jermari Harris snagged it to get the Hawkeyes to halftime.

Amidst those 16 plays, though, Spencer Petras was dinged on a non-targeting call (by the letter - crown of helmet hitting the offensive player - it probably should have been called) and entered the second half with a short leash. He went 2/7 for 24 yards after the hit and finished 9/22 for 137.

Unfortunately, it would not matter after Iowa’s first second half drive, because Michigan went right down the field and stretched the lead to 21-3 and Alex Padilla was given a tall mountain to climb. Sadly his upbringing in Colorado did not prepare him for carrying an entire offense and was put in the position to have this be tweeted:

At this point, Michigan smelled blood. They blocked a punt and turned it into a Hassan Haskins’ TD which set a school record. Cade McNamara continued to throw downfield. They scored again on a one-handed grab by Erick All.

To be fair, Michigan did what double digit favorites should do against a team like Iowa which lacks dimension. They forced them to be perfect (shocker: Iowa was unable to be perfect) and allowed time to win out alongside excellent play in all phases. Credit to them.

And credit to Iowa because they did give themselves a chance at winning their first Big Ten Title since 2004.

Yet Michigan can serve as a template for Iowa: Jim Harbaugh faced similar frustrations with a 20th century offense in last offseason and totally revamped their staff and philosophy. They’re playing for a National Championship as a result.

An overhaul like that is a lot more difficult to achieve when they involve the head coach’s failson, though.