For the first time all season, the Michigan football team woke up Sunday defeated. The Wolverines (6-1 Big Ten, 9-1 overall) had traveled to Kinnick Stadium to play a middling Iowa team, but they were bested in more than one way in a 14-13 loss.
Now, No. 3 Michigan will have to pick up the pieces this week and learn how to handle adversity. It faces Indiana Saturday, a team proven to cause unexpected trouble, and then the Wolverines will travel south to Columbus for their regular-season finale the following week.
The Daily breaks down the good, the bad and the ugly from Michigan’s first loss of the season.
Fifth-year senior Kenny Allen had a day, kicking a career-best 51-yard field goal to give Michigan a 13-11 lead over Iowa with 9:35 left in the fourth quarter. After sputtering through a four-game rut where he went 1-for-5, the Wolverines were happy to see him back. He has made all eight of his attempted kicks in the past four weeks.
Though he was quiet most of the game, senior cornerback Channing Stribling made a statement in the fourth quarter. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard launched a ball 40 yards, but underthrew it just enough for it land in Stribling’s hands. With just under two minutes to play and a two-point lead, Michigan fans breathed a sigh of relief. But the Wolverines couldn’t convert on third down and ultimately gave the Hawkeyes the ball back for their own game-winning drive.
Despite the loss, Michigan’s third-down defense made a few major stops. Overall, the Hawkeyes were just 4-for-16 when converting on third down. When they did, though, they made it count.
Many things went wrong Saturday for Michigan, but one of the most visible showings of that was redshirt sophomore quarterback Wilton Speight’s inability to connect with his receivers. He finished the game 11-for-26 for 103 yards and no touchdowns, which was well below his completion average of 62.3 percent.
Speight overthrew and underthrew a streaking Amara Darboh multiple times, and had he connected on one of those plays, it likely would have made a difference in the outcome. The fifth-year senior wide receiver, who leads Michigan in receiving yards, had just five yards on one catch.
It wasn’t always Speight’s fault, though. Speight placed a perfect ball into the hands of fifth-year senior wide receiver Jehu Chesson, but the ball was ripped from his chest by defensive back Manny Rugamba. Had Chesson held on to that ball, the Wolverines would have had possession on Iowa’s 25-yard line with 3:43 left to play.
Michigan had slippery hands, and that showed again when redshirt junior Khalid Hill fumbled the ball when returning the second-half kickoff. The fumble gave Iowa the ball on the Wolverines’ 43-yard line, and the Hawkeyes would kick a field goal later to take an 11-10 lead.
Though Michigan obviously struggled through the air, it couldn’t get things moving on the ground either. The Wolverines rushed for just 98 yards, the first time they’ve been held to double digits all year. Senior running back De’Veon Smith was largely ineffective, running for 28 yards on 12 attempts. Freshman Chris Evans had the best performance out of the backs, rushing for 52 yards on eight carries, but that wasn’t enough for the Wolverines.
Michigan’s penalties proved to be the story of the game. The Wolverines beat up punter Ron Coluzzi in all of the wrong ways, allowing Coluzzi to rack up 25 yards of favorable field position for the Hawkeyes.
At first, it was the targeting call that ejected freshman linebacker Devin Bush from the game. As Coluzzi attempted a fake punt attempt, he tripped and flipped to the ground, but Bush led the tackle with his head and was called for targeting.
Later in the first quarter, Coluzzi was called for not one running-into-the-kicker foul, but two. Yes, there were two consecutive running-into-the-kicker fouls, allowing the Hawkeyes to continue their drive.
Finally, and probably ugliest of all, came redshirt junior linebacker Mike McCray’s face-mask penalty on Iowa’s final drive of the game. It gave the Hawkeyes the 15 yards they needed to get into field-goal range with just 1:23 remaining.
Of course, the rest is history, and Iowa kicked a walk-off field goal that would allow thousands of Hawkeye fans to rush the field to celebrate their 14-13 upset.