The college football season is reaching its zenith, that magical time after most rivalries have played out, giving way to the slate of conference championships. By the end of this week, fans will be elated or devastated as these outcomes will inevitably determine the fate of bowl game selections and the College Football Playoff alike.
Perhaps the least consequential of these conference championships will be held in Indianapolis on Saturday night. For the final time, the Big Ten will have the West and East divisions meet to determine the champion. After this season and the impending conference realignments, The Big Ten will instead have the top two overall records face-off, regardless of region. That sounds like there will be a consistent mix of The Game rematches in the future. For now, the Hawkeyes and Wolverines will clash in what appears to be a dangerously uneven matchup.
Date: Saturday, 12/2/23
Time: 8:00 PM, Eastern
Venue: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana (Capacity: 70,000)
Series: Wolverines lead 44-15-4
Last Meeting: 27-14 Wolverines (2022)
Wolverines: Champions of the East
All the credit in the world goes to a solid Wolverine team that fought through adversity (of their own doing) the entire season. Their strength lies in their ability to remain united and persevere. This offensive line rivals any top unit in college football, allowing running back Blake Corrum to find seams to rush through. Not enough can be said about their front seven on defense, either. It appears nearly impossible to run up the middle against this team. Consistent speed, gadget plays, and aggressive playcalling are the best weapons against the Wolverines, and even then, they’re a tough group to overcome.
Iowa: Champions of the West
The Hawkeyes are the epitome of old-school, smashmouth, Big Ten football. They don’t score many points, and there is no flash on offense. They get the job done with a heavy dose of game management, relying on tight ends and solid offensive line work. Their quarterback, Cade McNamara (former Wolverine), has done a decent job this season with regard to leadership and preparation. This week alone, McNamara has been sharing as many details as possible with his new team. The Hawkeyes will be in the biggest dogfight of their lives and will need a miracle to pull this off. Depending on how aggressive the Wolverine offense plays, I’d guess that the Hawkeyes will need to force four takeaways and at least go 50/50 on fourth down.
Iowa can end up being in real trouble in this one. What I wouldn’t give for a well-timed Big Ten underdog upset. The Hawkeyes seem outmatched and overwhelmed in every category. Even coaching will be a tick for the Wolverines as they are set to get head coach Jim Harbaugh back from his three-game suspension. Granted, a cloud of doom still hangs over the program in Ann Arbor, but this one likely goes the way of the defending Big Ten champs. Wolverines win, 31-14.
(Photo by James Black/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)