Michi­gan’s loss to Iowa jum­bles Big Ten race

Penn State joins Wolver­ines, Ohio State atop East Divi­sion

Baltimore Sun - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - By Luke Mered­ith

IOWA CITY, IOWA — It turns out that Iowa might have a say in the Big Ten Con­fer­ence ti­tle race af­ter all.

By stun­ning Michi­gan, 14-13, on Satur­day night, the Hawkeyes made it pos­si­ble for a two-loss team to rep­re­sent the East Divi­sion in the con­fer­ence cham­pi­onship game — and for the on­ce­un­think­able prospect of a Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off with­out the Big Ten.

It can no longer be as­sumed that the an­nual ri­valry game be­tween the Wolver­ines (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten, No. 3 in the CFP rank­ings) and Ohio State (9-1, 6-1, No. 6 in CFP) will de­ter­mine the league’s play­off rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

That’s be­cause Penn State (8-2, 6-1, No. 10 in CFP), which beat the Buck­eyes two weeks ago, has joined Michi­gan and Ohio State atop the East.

If Michi­gan wins out, in­clud­ing beat­ing Ohio State in the reg­u­lar-sea­son fi­nale in two weeks, the Wolver­ines move on to the Big Ten ti­tle game. If Ohio State and Penn State win out, the Nit­tany Lions would win the East, leav­ing the Buck­eyes out of a chance to win the con­fer­ence ti­tle while likely be­ing the Big Ten’s high­est ranked team.

A loss by Penn State to ei­ther Rut­gers or Michi­gan State is what Ohio State needs to re­gain con­trol of the East.

That seems un­likely, but so was the idea of Iowa (6-4, 4-3), a 24-point un­der­dog, stun­ning the Wolver­ines.

“Give Iowa credit. They tack­led. They blocked. They played a very good foot­ball game. So, con­grat­u­late them and we move on,” Michi­gan coach Jim Har­baugh said.

That’s ex­actly what Michi­gan needs to do, be­cause if it wins out, it will likely be in the play­offs. But the Wolver­ines’ re­sume still took a hit Satur­day.

On the big­gest play from scrim­mage, the Wolver­ines let Iowa quar­ter­back C.J. Beathard run for a first down that set up Keith Duncan’s game-win­ning 33-yard field goal.

Michi­gan’s of­fense, which had scored 49 points against Penn State, 78 against Rut­gers and 59 against Mary­land, gained just 201 yards. Wilton Speight was just 11-for-26 pass­ing and threw an in­ter­cep­tion to true fresh­man Manny Rugamba late in the fourth quar­ter.

“There’s ab­so­lutely no ex­cuse. We’ve got to be a lot bet­ter than we” were Satur­day, tight end Jake Butt said.

Wis­con­sin (8-2, 5-2, No. 7 in CFP), by virtue of its win over Ne­braska (8-2, 5-2, No. 19 in CFP), is in po­si­tion to face what­ever team the East sends to In­di­anapo­lis for the ti­tle game.

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