116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY — As the Fox Big Noon Kickoff pregame show aired from the lawn next to Iowa’s Petersen Hall and pharmacy school, one of the many signs pointed out how that fan had more wins at Kinnick Stadium than Michigan Coach Jim Harbaugh.
That sign might be going into the recycling bin after Saturday’s game.
Harbaugh and No. 4 Michigan outlasted the unranked Hawkeyes, 27-14, on Saturday despite a late flicker of hope from the Iowa offense.
A Michigan win seemed almost like a foregone conclusion, prompting a few fans to even head to the exits in the third quarter, but Iowa (3-2, 1-1) made what was a 20-0 game competitive again in the fourth quarter.
After Iowa’s defense forced its first three-and-out of the game, the offense responded with a seven-play, 44-yard touchdown drive.
Kaleb Johnson capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run. A 28-yard completion from Spencer Petras to Nico Ragaini set up the Johnson touchdown.
The Hawkeyes then came close to striking again, but Petras had a 1-yard pass to Sam LaPorta on fourth-and-2 for a turnover on downs.
“Certainly was a throw error,” Petras said. “I kind of pulled up, just feeling the contain guy. … Especially in that situation, the one thing I can’t do is that.”
Iowa’s defense had been stellar in its first four games — its 5.75 points allowed per game were the fewest in the FBS — but Michigan built a lead too big for Iowa’s sluggish offense to overcome.
Much of Michigan’s success came on the ground. After giving up only 2.2 yards per carry in its first four games, Iowa allowed 5.2 yards per carry in the first half against Michigan.
Three different Michigan running backs had at least one carry for 10-plus yards in the first half.
Blake Corum had the starring role in the backfield, racking up 133 yards on 29 attempts Saturday. That translates to 4.6 yards per carry.
“He’s an outstanding back,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “And then they’re good up front. Those guys, last year and this year, are really blocking well.”
That lessened pressure on Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who went 18-for-24 for 155 yards and a touchdown in his first road start.
“You have to choose your poison a little bit defensively,” Ferentz said, “and if you load up too much in one area, you're going to be vulnerable in another spot.”
Iowa offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz showed creativity at times, trying a fake kneel at the end of the first half. But that wasn’t enough to mask obvious shortcomings in execution.
Only one of Iowa’s first-half drives went for more than 15 yards. At one point in the second half, Michigan had more first downs than Iowa had total plays on offense.
Quarterback Spencer Petras went 21-for-31 for 246 yards and a touchdown despite a lack of protection from the offensive line. Iowa’s rushing attack averaged just 1.5 yards per carry.
The 14 points were the second-most by Iowa’s offense this season — the offense was responsible for only 13 of last week’s 27 points — but Iowa’s second touchdown came in the final seconds with the game already out of reach.
Petras connected with tight end Luke Lachey for a 5-yard touchdown with eight seconds remaining.
A few controversial officiating calls riled the sellout Kinnick crowd, but it was far from an otherwise-flawless game for Iowa. Michigan had a 327-281 advantage in total yards, with Iowa picking up 75 of those on its final drive.
Iowa does not have time to dwell on the loss with a trip to Illinois looming next week. Illinois is coming off a definitive 34-10 win on the road against Wisconsin. The Illini held run-heavy Wisconsin to just 2 rushing yards on 24 attempts.
After that, Iowa will have its bye week before traveling to No. 3 Ohio State.
“Our requests to our players is to be focused on these six weeks, the six-week block,” Ferentz said. “Then we’ll figure things out afterward.”