No. 12 Iowa hangs on to beat Michigan 30-28
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP)—Iowa quarterback Ricky Stanzi always seems to make up for his early miscues.
Michigan’s Tate Forcier didn’t get a chance to do the same.
Stanzi threw for 284 yards and two touchdowns after he was picked off on his first pass, and No. 12 Iowa survived yet another close call, beating Michigan 30-28 Saturday night for its best start since 1985 and the Hawkeyes’ first 10-game winning streak in more than 80 years.
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez pulled an ineffective Forcier in the fourth quarter. Fellow freshman Denard Robinson led a touchdown drive capped by his own 3-yard run, and Michigan got the ball back with 1:30 left. But Robinson was intercepted by Brett Greenwood with 46 seconds left, keeping the Hawkeyes (6-0, 2-0), the only unbeaten team left in the Big Ten.
Iowa has won three home games by a total of just six points, but the Hawkeyes have never been all that interested in style points anyway.
“We’re going to have to fight adversity, and we’ve had to do that a lot in our football games, and that’s just going to help build character,” Stanzi said. “We’re excited about the record, but there’s still a lot of football left.”
Iowa won its 10th straight, the Hawkeyes’ longest streak since they won 20 in a row from 1920-1923.
Michigan (4-2, 1-2) had a season-worst five turnovers. Forcier was 8 of 19 for 94 yards and an interception, and Rodriguez said that Forcier, who has been struggling with a shoulder injury, wasn’t at 100 percent.
Rodriguez also did his best to squash any notions of a quarterback controversy and denied that he and Forcier exchanged words on the sideline.
“Tate made some plays that he’d probably like to have back, but we made a change to get a little spark,” Rodriguez said. “Denard gave us a little spark at the end, we just didn’t finish it off.”
Michigan’s Donovan Warren ran back a Stanzi interception for a touchdown in the game’s first minute and Brandon Minor scored twice for the Wolverines.
Tony Moeaki had two wide-open TD catches for Iowa, but nothing else came easily for the Hawkeyes.
Michigan was trailing 23-21 when it stuffed Iowa on a 4th-and-goal at the 1-yard line early in the fourth quarter, ending a drive kept alive when Michigan muffed a punt at its 16 and would have been flagged for roughing anyway. Stevie Brown broke up Stanzi’s pass on 4th-and-goal from the 1.
But Iowa’s defense then forced a three-and-out, and Stanzi found Moeaki for a 42-yard touchdown pass on the first play after the punt to make it 30-21 with 12:56 left.
Though Robinson led Michigan on a 59-yard scoring drive, his errant pass sent Michigan to its second straight loss—both on the road after a 4-0 start.
“We knew he wasn’t a good passer, but he was coming in to run the ball,” Iowa linebacker Jeremiah Hunter said. “When he did throw the ball, we did get the pick.”
Michigan’s offense, which had been stymied since scoring late in the first quarter, put together a 57-yard scoring drive midway through the third quarter. Minor, who rushed for 95 yards and the first two running TDs on Iowa all year, scored from 1 yard out to make it 23-21.
Iowa, despite rushing for three yards in the first half, led 20-14 at the break.
The Hawkeyes took that lead midway through the second quarter behind Stanzi, who threw a 47-yard pass to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos on third and 24 to set up a 1-yard TD leap by Brandon Wegher.
Stanzi’s first pass went directly to Warren, who took a gift-wrapped interception 40 yards for a touchdown just 46 seconds in.
It was the third Stanzi pick this season that was returned for a touchdown— but he made up for it on Iowa’s next possession.
Sensing a blitz, Stanzi checked out of the original play and Moeaki was sent into the flat. Moeaki was wide open, and Stanzi found him for a 34-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 7.
“It’s tough to rattle him,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of Stanzi. “I’m really proud of the way he’s led our football team.”
Forcier then threw an interception on his first pass, setting up Daniel Murray’s 28-yard field goal.
Michigan answered immediately, jumping back ahead 14-10 on a 3-yard TD run by Minor. It the first rushing touchdown allowed by Iowa in 33 quarters.
This was the first meeting between the Hawkeyes and the Wolverines since 2006 and just the seventh game under the lights at Kinnick Stadium, which doesn’t even have permanent lighting. Temperatures were in the mid-30s at kickoff.
It was the coldest college game for Forcier, from the San Diego area.
It was also the first time since 1985 that Iowa played the Wolverines as the higher-ranked team. In that one, the top-ranked Hawkeyes beat No. 2 Michigan 12-10.
Iowa has now won 10 straight dating back to last season, and their win over Michigan solidified their status as legitimate Big Ten title contenders—even though the Hawkeyes have made a habit of sweating out victories.
“Everyone staying together. That’s what it comes down to,” Stanzi said. “You can’t focus so much on a little play. If everyone sticks together, that’s when we can be at our best.”