By Madeleine Stroth
Cold and windy conditions were expected in Iowa City, but after Iowa’s 22-21 loss to Minnesota last week, a win over #13 ranked Michigan was not in the forecast for football fans. Iowa delivered, never giving up the lead and winning it all 24-16. This is the first time in the series Iowa has beaten the Michigan Wolverines three years in a row.
Head Coach Kirk Ferentz doubts the Hawks had the loss last week completely out of their minds, but James Vandenburg thinks the defeat helped his teammates to focus, “I think we knew we didn’t play as well as we could have last week, and we knew this was a good team coming in here, but we feel like we can play with anybody, we just have to play well.”
Iowa has to feel good about holding the lead throughout, but the big debate is whether Iowa won, or Michigan lost. The Hawks definitely stepped up the defense this week, especially in the red zone, which they’ve actually been pretty consistent with this season, but something has got to be said about Denard Robinson’s game today.
Robinson totaled thirty-eight incomplete passes Saturday afternoon, some of course to the credit of the Hawks defense, Broderick Binns with a career high three pass breaks-ups, but in the fourth, the Hawks were just getting lucky. Robinson threw twelve incomplete passes in the last 10 minutes of the game, some that would have been worth some serious yardage.
Vincent Smith also made jaws and stomachs drop when he emerged sprinting from a tackle and kept running for the goal line! Officials actually called the touchdown while everyone in the stadium, save Michigan fans, stood dumbfounded and all play had stopped mid-field. The play was recalled after review finding Smith’s right elbow was down at the twenty-nine. Phew.
But none of these “hold your breath moments” even compared to the last sixteen seconds… 3 yards from the Wolverine goal line, with a first down:
Robinson to Hemingway incomplete.
Robinson to Hemingway… incomplete? The second and goal play was under review after Hemingway actually made the catch juuussst out of bounds. Again, Hawks got lucky and the ruling on the field stood, incomplete.
Robinson to Smith incomplete.
Robinson to Roundtree incomplete, pass broken up by Iowa’s B.J. Lowery.
Hawks win 24-16.
The Hawkeyes could easily set their eyes too far into the future, but Coach Ferentz says thinking about a division title now would be idiotic, “What we’ve got to do is worry about next week, so I hope we don’t have any idiots on our team.” Marvin McNutt is also keen on holding focus and not letting this win, and especially games like last week’s distract his team, “knowing you have four weeks left you know not to put your head down and give up, you have to keep going.”
Iowa had a good game Saturday, and a lot of things came together that were just absent in Minnesota last week, but the Hawks are going to need to keep up the energy and rally for next weeks match-up with Michigan State. The Spartans won their game Saturday 31-24 against Minnesota after trailing the Gophers for a good portion of the game. Michigan State is ranked No. 17 in the BCS.
NOTE: DE Dominic Alvis went down in the fourth with an ACL injury.
Coach Ferentz on Alvis: “We lost him to an ACL injury. The only thing that would have been worse is if he was s senior, but you hate for any player to deal with something that’s going to require surgery and rehab and all those types of things. He’s a young guy that’s been working really hard and playing a lot better and improving each week, so it’s a loss to our team, but our thoughts are more so with him right now.”
Featured image credit to (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)