ANN ARBOR, Mich. — The Hawkeyes’ last play said it all.
Michigan sent pressure. Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley was covered in blue jerseys. It was fourth down and he was going down. He moved the ball from his right hand to his left and actually completed the pass to running back Tyler Goodson.
For a 1-yard loss. On fourth-and-10.
It was kind of miraculous. And it wasn’t close.
The No. 19 Wolverines (4-1, 2-1 Big Ten) swarmed and swarmed and swarmed until No. 14 Iowa (4-1, 1-1) was down to its quarterback having to throw a pass left-handed for a loss of 1.
Michigan’s 10-3 victory before 111,519 fans at Michigan Stadium was a defensive masterpiece from coordinator Don Brown.
The Wolverines beat four turnovers out of the Hawkeyes. On his fourth pass of the game, Stanley threw his first pick of the season and first in 139 attempts. Two more were still in the mail and both happened inside UM’s 40-yard line.
Michigan piled up eight sacks. Iowa had allowed only six coming into the game. It’s the most sacks Iowa has allowed since nine against Indiana in 2007 and the second-most of head coach Kirk Ferentz’s era.
“It was a matter of us not being able to match their tempo,” Ferentz said. “I’m a career line coach and I’ve been in those games. It’s not fun once it starts rolling the other way.”
It rolled, but it didn’t roll over the Hawkeyes. Still, that didn’t make it feel any less than the Hawkeyes fighting to keep from getting pinned for 3 1/2 hours.
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Iowa had five drives reach Michigan’s 42 or better and ended up with Keith Duncan’s 22-yard field goal to show for it. The three points was Iowa’s fewest since a 30-3 loss to Florida in the 2017 Outback Bowl.
“We knew it was going to be tough, we knew we weren’t going to put up 644 yards (the output last week vs. Middle Tennessee State),” said Stanley, who finished 23 of 42 for 260 yards and the three interceptions. “We had drives where we were able to get it rolling and then we’d maybe make one mistake and shoot ourselves in the foot.”
Michigan took a 10-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game. Duncan hit his field goal early in the second quarter.
That 10-3 deficit just sat up on the scoreboard and tantalized or taunted the Hawkeyes, whichever way you want to look at it.
Iowa’s best shot at cracking the code came on a drive with 7:08 left in the game. After a 30-yard pass from Stanley to Goodson, the Hawkeyes had a first down at UM’s 24.
From there, Iowa was hit with a back-to-back holding penalties. And then, after a 5-yard pass, it was an illegal receiver downfield out of a formation mistake and a false start.
After being 24 yards from tying the game, the Hawkeyes ended up punting from their 49. The eight penalties called on Iowa were the most in a span of 10 games and half of the 16 the Hawkeyes had been called for this year.
“It all depends on what penalties you get,” Ferentz said. “There were a couple today that were really bad timing and when you’re in a situation where things aren’t going your way, it makes the hill a little steeper.”
When Iowa is held to 1 rushing yard, the hill is more like a mountain.
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Brown made Iowa play left-handed, literally and figuratively. The Hawkeyes abandoned the run in the second half, rushing just 12 times with five of those not even being called runs because they were sacks.
“It was a great plan defensively,” Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh said. “Don during the week said he might jump off a tall building if some of those isolation plays worked, because he thought he had them.”
Michigan got rushing linebackers isolated on Iowa’s inside linemen. On Iowa’s last play, linebackers Khaleke Hudson and Jordan Glasgow were hugging Stanley when he found a way to fling it.
“One yard rushing, that’s a masterpiece,” Harbaugh said. “There was a ton of movement up front and just a relentless effort.”
So, was this an alarm or a wake-up call for the Hawkeyes? By the way, it’s No. 12 and rising Penn State (5-0, 2-0) next week. The Nittany Lions had 10 sacks Saturday against Purdue.
“It’s not really either of those,” safety Geno Stone said. “We’ve got to move on from this game. We can’t let this define us. We can turn this into something really special.”
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