Three points. That’s all Iowa was able to muster against Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game. The Wolverines won 42-3 in convincing fashion, and the Michigan pass-rush disrupted the timing of Iowa’s two quarterbacks — Spencer Petras and Alex Padilla, all night long.
“It’s a challenge. We have a lot of respect for them coming in. Even more now. Certainly their defensive side, both sides, but their defense,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We knew it was going to be tough, but we still thought we’d be able to come up with something. And obviously it didn’t work out the way we hoped.”
Edge-rusher Aidan Hutchinson recorded Michigan’s only sack, but his presence was felt repeatedly and earned him Big Ten Championship Game MVP. Because of Michigan’s pass-rush, Petras consistently had to get rid of the ball quicker than he would have liked, leading to an abundance of errant throws — Petras would end his night 9-of-22 for 137 yards. Padilla would relieve Petras but didn’t fare much better, going 10-of-15 for 38 yards and an interception.
Ferentz conceded that it’s incredibly difficult to actually stop Michigan’s pass-rush.
“There’s not a heck of a lot you can do. Try to throw the ball quickly. You try to chip with the tight ends or backs. It’s not new to the guys. They’ve been seeing it all season long. The other thing you can try to do is minimize the third and longs. And if you do get into them, be smart, because as I alluded to, they can change the game, that Wisconsin game changed real fast in the fourth quarter,” Ferentz said. “Just trying to give yourself a chance to stay competitive in the game and close the gap at some point. But they make it a real challenge. And I alluded to it, they’re a good pro defense where they’re stout inside and then passing downs they’ve got two guys that can rush that passer really well. It affects the game.”
For Ferentz and Iowa, the loss stings, but they realize their biggest defeat, their third loss of the season, was to a great Michigan team that’s headed to the College Football Playoff.
“They played a great game. They’ve had an outstanding season. They’re just a really talented football team and they performed extremely well. They’ve been consistent all season long. So hats off to them tonight, certainly,” Ferentz said. “We knew this game would be a big challenge coming into it. Got a lot of respect for what they’ve done this season. Knew we’d have to play our best and make some things go our way. And obviously that didn’t materialize.”