Michigan and Jim Harbaugh are going to the College Football Playoff as the No. 1 or No. 2 team in the entire country.
The Wolverines are now 12-1 and will be no lower than No. 2 in the country in the CFP rankings after dismantling Iowa in the Big Ten Championship, 42-3. Harbaugh yanked one monkey off of his back last weekend by beating Ohio State, and punted another one into the stands tonight in the Big Ten title game and because of it, U-M will be returning to Ann Arbor with some hardware. Michigan wasn't perfect against the Hawkeyes, but they were certainly the better team by a wide margin. Here's what stood out...
Blake Corum is still that dude
We aren't even sure if he's at 100%, but it doesn't matter. The dude is electric and has a chance to score every time he touches the ball. Tonight, he did just that on his first carry of the game from 67 yards out. Corum wasn't used much after that, which makes you wonder just how healthy he is, but he's a factor when he's in the game and whoever the opponent is, knows it.
Josh Gattis brought it again
Michigan's offense was pretty bad in the second quarter, but out of the gate, throughout the third quarter and down the stretch, they moved the ball with big plays and sustained drives en route to a pretty comfortable win. Early in the game, Gattis called Blake Corum's number with JJ McCarthy in the game and put Iowa's defense in conflict. Corum took it to the house from 67 yards out. With 5:27 left in the first quarter, Gattis dialed up a beautifully executed halfback pass with freshman Donovan Edwards that hit Roman Wilson in stride for a 75-yard touchdown pass.
Mike Macdonald's adjustments are a thing of beauty
Throughout much of the first quarter, linebacker Josh Ross was targeted in the passing game and it was working very well for the Hawkeyes. Ross is incredibly solid against the run and is a leader out on the field, but he's limited in space, and Macdonald recognized it after a few successful passes in the middle zone and up the seams. Macdonald started using a mixture of Mike Barrett and several safeties to put a little more speed and agility on the field and those plays dried up.
Iowa also had success on some naked bootleg plays in the first half, but Macdonald scrubbed those out as well. He either recognized the formations used by Iowa or noticed the personnel, but he started sending blitzes and wide edge rushers at Iowa quarterbacks almost every time they called that play. It never worked again.
AJ Henning's fair catches
Henning's hands were solid, but his decision making was not. He fair caught punts at the 9-, 8- and 3-yard lines. The way he was back there fielding them makes me think he was told to do it that way, but it just didn't seem like a very good idea. In this game it didn't hurt too much because Iowa's offense was so bad, but against a better team, that type of repeated field position can be a killer.
Josh Ross in coverage
It's been touched on above, but Ross was picked on in coverage. It obviously didn't lead to any really big plays or scores for Iowa, but it was a weakness they exploited early. Mike Macdonald recognized it, diagnosed it and corrected it by using Mike Barrett and several safeties in obvious passing situations. Like Henning's decisions, it didn't hurt U-M much today, but it definitely could in the playoffs.