No. 2 Michigan takes Big Ten in rout, makes playoff pitch

NCAA Football

Michigan defensive back Daxton Hill, rear, breaks up a pass intended for Iowa wide receiver Keagan Johnson (6) during the first half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. Hill was called for pass interference on the play. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Hassan Haskins ran for two second-half touchdowns and broke a school record while running back Donavan Edwards threw a 75-yard TD pass to help No. 2 Michigan capture its first Big Ten title in 17 years and a probable playoff berth with a 42-3 rout Saturday over No. 15 Iowa.

Resurgent Michigan (12-1, No. 2 CFP) has won five straight and if it reaches the playoff, as expected, would need one more win to return to Indianapolis to play for its first national championship since 1997.

It’s been an improbable run since coach Jim Harbaugh took a pay cut following a dismal 2020. The Wolverines started this season unranked and picked to finish in the middle of the Big Ten East, whose champion has won the last nine conference crowns. And it came on an emotional night when Michigan paid tribute to the victims from Tuesday’s school shooting, which resulted in the deaths of four students at Oxford (Michigan) High School.

They handed the Hawkeyes (10-3, No. 13) their second straight title game loss and prevented coach Kirk Ferentz from capturing his first conference crown since 2004. Iowa lost to Michigan State in the 2015 title game and this one came on a night both quarterbacks, Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla, struggled against the Wolverines.

All Michigan needed was an early two-punch scoring flurry.

Blake Corum made two cuts to the right and sprinted 67 yards to make it 7-0. On Michigan’s next offensive play, Cade McNamara lateraled to Edwards and the freshman threw a perfect 75-yard TD pass to a wide open Roman Wilson for a 75-yard score and a 14-0 lead.

Iowa finally answered with a 22-yard field goal but the Hawkeyes just couldn’t stay on the field.

Hawkins broke open the game with a 4-yard TD run midway through the third quarter then sealed the victory by becoming the first Michigan running back to score 20 TDs in a single season on a 1-yard run early in the fourth. Ron Johnson set the previous mark, 19, in 1968.

THE TAKEAWAY

Michigan: After ending a losing streak to rival Ohio State and a 17-year title drought over the past eight days, the Wolverines are waiting to see to see where the CFP selection committee puts it in the four-team playoff bracket.

Iowa: It was a bitter end for a team that reached No. 2 in October. Yes, Iowa won four straight and got the help it needed from Minnesota to make it to Indy. But the offense struggled mightily and the defense finally wore down.

IN MEMORIAM

Michigan honored the Oxford victims with a patch on the right shoulder of their jerseys.

The patch featured the initials of Tate Myre, a football player and wrestler, and his jersey No. 42 along with four hearts — one for each of the students who died in the shooting — inside the school’s block ‘O’. Myre’s family also joined Michigan’s captains for the pregame toss and wore T-shirts that read Oxford Strong.

The high school is about one hour north of Michigan’s campus.

Tate Myre’s family were honorary captains for the game.

STAT PACK

Michigan: Corum’s 67-yard run matched the longest of his career and Edwards’ TD pass came on the first throw of his career. … The Wolverines improved to 3-0 all-time in Indy after beating DePauw in 1892 and Wabash in 1907. … DE Aidan Hutchinson added another sack to his single-season school record and now has 14.

Iowa: Ended the first half with its second interception of the game and No. 24 this season, breaking a school record set in 1986 and matched in 1987 and 2008. … The Hawkeyes beat three ranked teams this season but a streak of six straight wins over Top 25 foes ended. It was the second-longest active streak in the FBS (Alabama, 11). …

IN THE STANDS

Over 67,000 fans were in attendance to the game, setting a new Big Ten title game record. Excited fans started gathering hours before the game began.

“Every year we’ve been coming to the Big Ten Championship. Finally Michigan made it,” said Matt Babcock, a fan from Grand Rapids. “It’s exciting. We’ve been waiting a long time. No way we were going to miss it.”

Some fans were sure Michigan will prevail.

“I don’t want to jinx us, but I believe Michigan is gonna win,” said University of Michigan senior Jacob Squires.

Others were just glad the team beat Ohio State.

“Beating Ohio State, regardless of what happens, I’m just happy we beat Ohio State,” said Grand Rapids native James Haverkamp, who now lives in Indianapolis.

UP NEXT

Michigan: Will find out Sunday where the CFP selection committee has it seeded.

Iowa: Waits to see who and where will play in its bowl game.

—News 8’s Madalyn Buursma contributed to this report.

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