ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The 2020 season has been disastrous for the Michigan football team, losing four of six games and watching the foundation created by Jim Harbaugh the last half-decade begin to crumble.
So it’s only fitting that the Big Ten throw some extra salt in the wound, forcing the woefully undermanned Wolverines into the fire with a “Champions Week” matchup against Iowa.
When the Big Ten announced there would be a “Champions Week” on the same day as the conference title game, teams were supposed to play the opponent that finished in the same position in the other division. The second place team in the East would play the second place team in the West, and so on.
Well, Michigan, the sixth place team in the East, will play against Iowa, the No. 2 team in the West.
On the road. At night. In Kinnick Stadium.
Yeah, that should go well.
The Hawkeyes didn’t win the West Division, but they sure look like the best team. Since starting the season with back-to-back losses by a combined five points -- including a blown 17-0 lead against Northwestern that decided the division title -- Iowa is 6-0 with five victories by at least 14 points.
Last week, the Hawkeyes dismantled Wisconsin, 28-7. That’s the same Wisconsin team that beat Michigan by 38 points.
Will Michigan have enough players to even participate? That remains to be seen. The Maryland and Ohio State games were both canceled because the Wolverines were without dozens of players due to COVID-19, contact tracing and other injuries.
Even if Michigan does play, it could be without its top two quarterbacks and most of its key defensive pieces.
While Ohio State and Northwestern play for the Big Ten title, the rest of the “Champions Week” matchups look like this:
- Nebraska (7th in West) at Rutgers (5th in East)
- Purdue (5th in West) at Indiana (2nd in East)
- Minnesota (3rd in West) at Wisconsin (4th in West)
- Illinois (6th in West) at Penn State (4th in East)
- Michigan State (7th in East) at Maryland (3rd in East)