No. 2 Michigan beats No. 18 Iowa 26-0 for third consecutive Big Ten title, likely to claim top playoff seed.
— Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh celebrated his return to the sideline Saturday by hugging players and evasively running to avoid a Gatorade bath.
Blake Corum and J.J. McCarthy were already reflecting on bigger goals.
Corum scored twice and the defense pitched a rare shutout as No. 2 Michigan routed No. 18 Iowa 26-0 for its third straight Big Ten title game, a third straight playoff berth and likely the top seed in the College Football Playoff.
And with No. 1 Georgia falling to No. 8 Alabama in the Southeastern Conference title game, Michigan (13-0, No. 2 CFP) is finally poised to reach No. 1 after spending 13 of 14 weeks at No. 2. Michigan lost each of its previous two semifinal appearances and hasn’t won a national title since 1997.
Iowa (10-3, No. 16) never had a chance.
Harbaugh’s return meant he could finally savor a milestone moment on the sideline with his players after serving three-game suspension for an alleged sign-stealing scheme. He missed the 1,000th victory in program history and last week’s 30-24 division-clinching victory over archrival Ohio State.
Michigan fans booed loudly as first-year Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti presented the championship trophy and appeared not to even look at Harbaugh after he became the first coach in league history to win three straight outright conference championships. It’s also a school first.
The Wolverines extended their school record of consecutive wins over Big Ten foes to 25 as J.J. McCarthy went 22 of 30 for 147 yards.
For the Hawkeyes, it was more of the same.
While the defense held stout — allowing the TDs on drives of 5 and 6 yards and four field goals — the offense produced just 155 yards and became only the second team in conference title game history to be shut out in the final season of the East-West division format. Ohio State opened that era with a 59-0 rout over Wisconsin 59-0 in 2014.
Deacon Hill was 18 of 32 with 120 yards and the Hawkeyes rushed for 35 yards on 24 carries. The loss snapped a four-game winning streak and marked the second in three years Iowa lost the title game to Michigan by more than 25 points.
Michigan took a 10-0 lead with a 35-yard field goal on its first possession and Corum’s 3-yard run on its next, two plays after Semaj Morgan broke free for an 87-yard punt return to set a Big Ten title game record.
Corum is the only FBS offensive or defensive player who has scored in every game this season.