Michigan tops Iowa for first conference title since 2004, earns place in College Football Playoff

Wolverines headed to College Football Playoff for first time since four-team tournament’s inception

Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh reacts with his players on the sideline during the second half of the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings) (Darron Cummings, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Michigan Wolverines have won their first Big Ten Conference football championship since 2004, first outright since 2003, and subsequently earned their spot in the College Football Playoff to play for a national championship.

The Wolverines (12-1) topped the Iowa Hawkeyes (10-3), 42-3, on Saturday night in Indianapolis. It’s their first Big Ten title under head coach Jim Harbaugh, who took over in 2015.

Iowa’s last conference title was back in 2004 when they shared it with Michigan, but gone are the days of sharing such titles since the conference championship game was instituted in 2011. This was Michigan’s first time playing in the conference championship game.

The College Football Playoff final four group has not been officially set yet, but Michigan could slot in at No. 2 or perhaps even No. 1 after this win against Iowa. Alabama, Georgia and Cincinnati are likely the three other teams.

This will be the Wolverines’ first trip to the College Football Playoff four-team tournament since its inception in 2014-15.

Michigan has not won a national championship in football since 1997 when it went 12-0 during coach Lloyd Carr’s tenure.

Read more: Alabama rolls No. 1 Georgia, 41-24, for SEC title -- both expected in College Football Playoff

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Jamie anchors sports coverage on Local 4 News Saturdays at 6 & 11 p.m. and Sunday at 6 p.m., in addition to hosting Sports Final Edition.