The Michigan Wolverines have finally made it to Indianapolis and the only thing standing between them and the Big Ten title is the Iowa Hawkeyes. Iowa is representing the Big Ten West division after a 7-2 conference record and 10-2 overall record. Iowa was ranked No. 2 in the country at one point this season, but two straight losses derailed the Hawkeyes’ College Football Playoff hopes. After winning their last four games, they have put themselves in position to win the Big Ten. Here’s what Michigan needs to do to be Big Ten Champions:
No hangover from the OSU win
There has been a lot of talk this week about Michigan potentially not being able to focus on Iowa because of the high the team is on from last week’s colossal win over Ohio State. It was the biggest win for the Michigan football program in the last 15-20 years. If Michigan didn’t turn the page immediately and shift the focus to Iowa, it wouldn’t be surprising at all if the Wolverines come out a bit sluggish. It would be surprising, however, if Michigan didn’t immediately flip that switch. Michigan has been level-headed all year long and seems too determined to make a mistake like this. None of these guys have rings and they know they have yet to achieve all their goals.
Win the line of scrimmage
Both teams like to play old school, physical, pound the rock football. The battles in the trenches are likely going to be what decides this game. Iowa’s offense isn’t great, especially their passing game. Michigan’s defense should be able to give the Hawkeye offense fits and keep the points to a minimum. Iowa’s defense, however, is strong. There’s a reason the over/under for this one is at 43. It will certainly be a challenge to run the ball on Iowa, but that’s what everyone said before last week, too, and look what happened. If Michigan can keep up this rushing attack, watch out.
Avoid turnovers and other costly mistakes
This is a game the Wolverines should be able to win, and win somewhat comfortably if they play like they’ve been playing and bring their A game. The way Iowa wins this one: cashing in on costly mistakes by Michigan. This is something the Hawkeyes have been good at all year long, and if Michigan plays sloppy, Iowa will capitalize. The Hawkeyes have won some games this season where they were dominated in just about every facet of the game, but capitalized on any mistake the other team made, and won the game, like their game against Iowa State. The Cyclones had Iowa beaten in just about every statistical category, but turned the ball over four times on four bad mistakes. Sometimes you can get lucky and other teams won’t capitalize on sloppy plays. Iowa isn’t a team that will miss those chances.
If Michigan plays clean football and was focused in practice this week, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be Big Ten champions.