INDIANAPOLIS — The game seemed a formality from the beginning. At no point was there any doubt.
When Michigan football's Semaj Morgan set a Big Ten-record with an 87-yard punt return late in the first quarter and Blake Corum was in the end zone two plays later, Lucas Oil Stadium felt more like Ann Arbor South than the league's centrally located indoor stadium.
But the reality really set in early in the third quarter when a review determined Mike Sainristil had forced his second fumble of the game, and Michigan's offense was again set up with first-and-goal.
Corum plowed his way into the end zone once more — the 55th time in his career to tie Anthony Thomas for the Michigan program record — as U-M suffocated Iowa, 26-0, to win the 2023 Big Ten championship on Saturday.
It's the first time in 144 years of Michigan football that the Wolverines have won three consecutive, outright Big Ten titles.
While it certainly makes a statement about the past three seasons — Michigan is now 39-3 during that stretch, now in consideration for the program's best era of all-time — it most importantly keeps the dream alive in 2023 as U-M is assured to be one of four teams in the College Football Playoff.
Where will Michigan play, and against who? That's another, not-yet-clear, story, but a trip to Pasadena, California, and the Rose Bowl seems the most likely scenario. The College Football Playoff selection committee, which includes U-M athletic director Warde Manuel, will announce its decision at noon Sunday.
The Wolverines (13-0) won't be sweating their spot in the field because they didn't overlook the Hawkeyes. As ugly as it was, U-M put together a simple, yet effective (enough) game plan. J.J. McCarthy completed 22 of 30 passes for 147 yards and Corum added 16 rushes for 52 yards and two scores.
But the defense was the star of the day.
The unit forced more punts (seven) than it allowed first downs (five). It also forced two turnovers and three turnovers on downs and also came away with the first shutout in Big Ten title game history.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Michigan shuts out Iowa, wins third straight Big Ten title