By: Aidan Champion
Jim Harbaugh finally makes his trip to the Big Ten title game this weekend after defeating Ohio State for the first time as Michigan’s head coach.
But the job isn’t finished.
A Big Ten title for the Maize and Blue and a spot in the College Football Playoffs is on the line as the No. 2 Wolverines take on No. 13 Iowa.
Here’s why Michigan will be leaving Indianapolis as conference champions on Saturday:
The Wolverines’ defense
Though Iowa won the West, it’s offensive standings among the rest of the Big Ten aren’t exactly what you would expect from a conference title contender.
The Hawkeyes are 10th in the Big Ten in scoring offense, ranking outside the top 10 at No. 11 in rushing and just eighth in passing.
Michigan, meanwhile, is third in the conference in scoring defense, allowing an average of just 17.2 points per game.
Not to mention, the Wolverines have the top two sack leaders in the conference up front in Aidan Hutchinson (13) and David Ojabo (11). No other Big Ten player has reached double-digit sacks this season.
Should these two stars on the defensive line have the strong performance they’re capable of having on Saturday, it could be a nightmarish evening for the Hawkeye offense.
Michigan’s run game
The Wolverines are first in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game with 224.9. Depending on the availability status of running back Blake Corum, it could very well be another dominant outing for running back Hassan Haskins.
The 2021 First-Team All-Big Ten honoree ran for 169 yards and totaled five touchdowns in Michigan’s win over OSU, tying the single-game TD total program record.
Haskins has been all but unstoppable this season. He’s second in the Big Ten in rushing yards per game while totaling over 1,200 yards on the season.
When Iowa was faced with the task of stopping Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen back in October, it allowed the Second-Team All-Big Ten honoree to rush for 104 yards. The Badgers, who rank just behind Michigan in the conference in rushing yards per game, totaled 166 yards on the ground in their conquering of the Hawkeyes.
It’s safe to expect the Wolverine offense to display an emphasis on its rushing game in Saturday’s matchup.
Michigan wants it more
At the end of the day, the team that has the strongest will to win will come out victorious.
Michigan football is back to a position it’s been battling to return to for years. It’s all in front of them. You have to think that after overcoming its greatest foe for the first time in 10 years and making it to the Big Ten Championship for the first time in the game’s history, the Wolverines will have no intention of taking their success thus far for granted.
The time is now. Michigan is the best team in the Big Ten. It’s time for it to prove it one last time.
Kickoff for Saturday’s game is set for 8:00 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Written by: Aidan Champion
Aidan is an MSU Journalism Student and Spartan Football writer for: impact89fm.org
Photo Courtesy of The Big Ten