Entering Saturday’s contest, Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh made note of Kinnick Stadium’s ominous reputation — calling the Iowa Hawkeyes’ home field “where top-five teams go to die.”
While the infamous Kinnick voodoo seemed to creep into the game for much of the second half, the Wolverines took care of business by a score of 27-14 — earning the third 5-0 start to a season in the Harbaugh era.
At the onset, it appeared the Wolverines had shored up the playcalling concerns from last week. In a masterfully scripted opening drive, Michigan ran just one third down play, finishing the drive on a 16-yard jet sweep by Ronnie Bell.
11 plays— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) October 1, 2022
That's how you start a game. @Ronnieb_8 x @UMIchFootball pic.twitter.com/16lvVJT3ti
In contrast to the Wolverines’ opening script, the Hawkeyes couldn’t capitalize on a first down five-yard gain, as they clawed for only one yard on second down and threw an incomplete pass on third to prematurely end their opening rebuttal.
Iowa’s inability to capitalize on chunk plays became something of a trend in its first few drives — after firing off a 14-yard pass that receiver Luke Lachey added another 12 yards to on the ground, quarterback Spencer Petras then had three straight incompletions that ranged from hurried to just wildly inaccurate.
Michigan wasn’t immune from inaccurate passes either, however, as J.J McCarthy continued to struggle finding his touch on the deep ball. This time, mere inches of air distance separated Roman Wilson from a 45-yard touchdown catch. The Wolverines ultimately had to settle for three points instead of six, putting the score at 10-0.
Michigan couldn’t find a second touchdown in its two minute drill, as not paying attention to the play clock resulted in a delay of game penalty and a rushed third down play. The Wolverines didn’t walk away empty handed though, as Jake Moody threaded a kick to make it a 13-0 game heading into halftime — the first game since 2012 the Hawkeyes had been held scoreless in the first half at Kinnick Stadium.
Jake Moody sinks it again! @UMichFootball goes up 13-0 before the half pic.twitter.com/jj1sMdHfpa— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 1, 2022
The first half splits were particularly striking between Michigan and Iowa, with the Wolverines raking up 18 first downs and 236 total yards to the Hawkeyes’ five and 91, respectively. That general trend demonstrated itself in spades to start the second half; a three-and-out series that resulted in a net -9 yards for Iowa was countered by Michigan’s best drive since the game’s start, finished by McCarthy extending a third down play long enough to find Donovan Edwards in the end zone for six.
Too easy for J.J. McCarthy @UMichFootball takes a 20-0 lead pic.twitter.com/sJNuzG5YII— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 1, 2022
As Iowa is known to do however, it took just one miscue by the Wolverines to change the atmosphere of the game on it’s head. A rare weak punt by Brad Robbins started Iowa’s drive in Michigan’s side of the field, which the Hawkeyes made staggeringly easy work of the Wolverines’ secondary to put the score at 20-7.
Ultimately, it was the most unlikely of position groups that stepped up to put the game away for Michigan — the pass rush. After making a fourth down stand by Iowa in the red zone, Mike Morris and Eyabi Okie combined to force a four-and-out for the Hawkeyes.
SACKED @UMichFootball's defense is DANGEROUS today! pic.twitter.com/9xkAM06kCS— FOX College Football (@CFBONFOX) October 1, 2022
With a 20-yard touchdown run from Blake Corum, the Wolverines effectively cemented a win. It wasn’t all smooth sailing however, as Iowa would drive down the field in garbage time to make the final score 27-14.
McCarthy finished the game with 155 yards and a touchdown on a 75% completion percentage, while Corum continued his early season run of high performances with another 100+ yard game. On the defensive side, Morris would finish as the Wolverines’ top man, recording two sacks and two tackles-for-loss.
Michigan will again be on the road next week, traveling to Bloomington to face the Indiana Hoosiers.