2020 will continue to be chaotic and unpredictable to the bitter end. A place where rules are optional, apathy is omnipresent, and the sun continually shines in Columbus.
I hate it here.
Will Michigan actually play Iowa next week or play in a bowl game? Will Jim Harbaugh return as head coach? Will Michigan’s ninth-ranked recruiting class stumble as National Signing Day approaches?
A dark cloud of anxiety hangs over the program as we stare into the unknown future. Despite the clouds, Michigan must prepare for even darker times in the short term. The Big 10 should have taken the Wolverines out to dinner before matching them up with the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Champions Week crossover game.
“Hey, I thought teams with the same finishing position in each conference division were supposed to play each other?”
They were, but apparently, since Ohio State took Indiana’s conference championship game spot, the Hoosiers (6-1) were gift-wrapped the Purdue Boilermakers (2-5) as a consolation and Michigan gets to play Iowa (6-2) at night, AT Kinnick.
The structure of determining this matchup makes less sense than Tenet. Iowa is riding a six-game winning streak that includes victories over three teams that beat Michigan: Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Penn State.
The Hawkeyes outscored these three teams by a combined score of 118-35. For comparison, these three teams outscored the Wolverines by a combined score of 103-52.
Remember a long time ago when Michigan faced a traditional Big 10 power running team at night? On November 14, the Wisconsin Badgers bulldozed the Wolverines in the Big House 49-11.
That fever dream of a game could have actually been worse as the Badgers carried a 28-0 lead into halftime and put it on cruise control in the second half. Iowa’s offensive identity is almost a carbon copy of the Badgers except better in every area.
Moreover, Iowa is one of the few teams in college football to play every game on their schedule. This consistency has allowed them to hit a groove and gradually improve each week like a more traditional football season.
Michigan has not played a football game since Thanksgiving weekend and has endured a massive COVID-19 breakout in the interim. How much time have they practiced? What is the health status of those infected? Is Hell hotter than it is here right now?
The Wolverines did defeat a ten-win Hawkeyes team last season by a score of 10-3. However, this Iowa team is statistically better than last season and Michigan is statistically worse in every area.
This matchup feels like a showcase for Iowa; Michigan will draw viewership, the name-value/branding draws headlines, and everyone enjoys watching a blue blood struggle. This game, if played, will be the epitome of the 2020 Michigan Wolverines season: false optimism, self-destruction, frustration, and a hangover.
This weekend we learned that 2020 is unfair and unrelenting. Just when you think there is a chance for one more victory, one more glimmer of light, the universe hands you a night game at Kinnick.
I hate it here.