So...ummm...yeah...well...hmmm...that...uhhh...happened. This is why they play the game, folks. I am the first to admit when I call something totally wrong and am forced to eat a big plate of crow with seconds. Based on what I had seen the last few weeks, I thought this game was going to be a remake of the 2012 Penn State game, in which the Hawks got pantsed on national TV. Instead, it turned into a remake of the 2008 Penn State game, in which an underachieving Iowa team turned its season around on Daniel Murray’s last-second kick to stun the #3 Nittany Lions.
Iowa was a 24 point underdog at kickoff. I still thought the line was too low. I had no hope for this game. But I got this one wrong and I could not be happier about it. Desmond King beat his home state team, Jaleel Johnson ate Michigan RB’s for dinner, and Keith Duncan will never have to buy a drink in Iowa City once he turns 21 three years from now (someone get that man a fake ID). Michigan came into this game with the #3 offense and the #1 defense in the entire nation. But Iowa beat freakin’ Michigan.
How did they do it?
What went right?
The defense: This is a Michigan squad that boasted the #3 offense in all the land, which you rarely see from Big Ten country. The Wolverines came into this game averaging 497 yards of offense and averaged 48 points/game. Iowa amazingly held them to 201 yards and 13 points. You have to start up front with the defensive line. Jaleel Johnson was a man amongst boys, routinely causing issues for the offensive line. The big man had a career-high 9 tackles, 1 sack, and 2 tackles for loss, including the all-important safety that jumpstarted the Hawkeyes.
Next you have the LB’s, who I have been pretty hard on all season. They were continually shown on replays getting into passing lanes and holding their own in coverage, as well as helping the DE’s set the edge against the Michigan stable of RB’s (oh by the way, I am LOL’ing at you this morning Karan Higdon).
Then, you have a patchwork defensive backfield, with second-stringers Anthony Gair and Manny Rugamba. I thought the secondary was overall excellent. Despite Rugamba being very undersized against big receivers, he held his own and ripped away an important interception late in the game. Gair was beat quite a bit on deep throws, but fortunately the DL disturbed Wilton Speight enough to not let him be too accurate. Gair was very good in run support though and, frankly, I thought the second-stringers brought an energy that the defense has missed the last few weeks. Oh and Desmond King did this...
He should have followed that with the Stone Cold Stunner, but I digress.
Finally, I will give a lot of credit to Phil Parker. The normally conservative Hawkeyes were aggressive and running stunts constantly and frequently run-blitzed off the edge and from the safety position. I think the aggressive scheme changed the mentality of the entire defense.
Akrum Wadley: Daniels was good too and he laid some impressive truck sticks on Michigan defenders, but Wadley stole the show for the Iowa offense. Kirk Herbstreit and Chris Fowler seemed to be in awe of Wadley’s cutting ability and elusiveness. Sometimes, Wadley gets a bit too eager to spin and cut, but those capabilities are perfect counterpunches to a Michigan defense that thrives on being overly aggressive. Wadley repeatedly left over-pursuing LB’s with their jocks on the ground after juking them out of their shoes. Some guys just know how to bring it once the bright lights come on. Wadley is one of those guys.
Special Teams: Wow what a night for these guys. It started with the Hawkeyes once again being the beneficiary of an overly-aggressive Michigan squad. In the first quarter, the Wolverines were called for not one, but two running-into-the-punter penalties, which gave the Hawks a first down. Michigan’s punt return team seemed to back off a bit after this. Coluzzi’s infamous tuck-and-roll followed and Michigan’s aggressiveness burned them again, costing them 15 yards and a player for targeting. It’s easier to laugh at this when you win...
But then Coluzzi caught fire (or at least as much fire as a punter can catch). He put the Wolverines deep in their own territory repeatedly, including the critical punt to the two, which set up the safety.
The Hawkeyes’ kickoff team opened up the second half with a fumble recovery, which led to a go-ahead field goal. Oh and then you have this...
Kinnick Stadium: If you were there, pat yourself on the back. Kinnick sounded loud and proud pretty much all night. It was a great showing on TV and for the 60+ recruits in attendance.
What went wrong?
Passing game: CJ Beathard hasn’t looked like CJ Beathard all year and last night was no different. He went 8/19 with 66 yards and a TD and a crucial pick, which I thought would be the end of the game. But who cares, Iowa beat freakin’ Michigan.
3rd down: Once again, Iowa was garbage on 3rd down. This seemed to be a result of the power off-tackle to the left side getting stuffed on 1st down quite a bit. Iowa was 4-16 on 3rd down. Yuck. But who cares, Iowa beat freakin’ Michigan.
Roughing the Center: Referee speaking here. Yes roughing the center (“snapper” in high school) is a real penalty. In a legal scrimmage kick (aka punt/field goal) formation, the NCAA rule says that the defender must wait one second before hitting the center. In high school, the rule only says that a player may not charge directly into the snapper. Generally, the rule is applied (speaking only for the high school level) in the following manner: once the center lifts his head, he’s free game. The center definitely had his head up when got hit. Not sure if this is also true for the college game, but what bothered me about the penalty was the timing of it. Yes penalties should be called evenly throughout the game. But no ref wants to be remembered for calling a ticky-tack unheard of penalty at a crucial time of the game. In any case, the Hawkeyes were the beneficiary of a facemask penalty that may or may not have been one a few plays later, so whatever.
But who cares, IOWA BEAT FREAKIN’ MICHIGAN!
Let’s party like it’s 1985! One more time...