Ann Arbor, Mich. — James Vandenberg summed it up best late Saturday afternoon while talking in a hall deep within massive Michigan Stadium:
“Same story, different day.”
He was referring to Iowa’s offense during a 42-17 drubbing against the No. 23 Wolverines before a crowd of 113,016, but he just as well could have been speaking for the team as a whole.
Another game. Another loss.
“We didn’t play as well as we can, or need to,” coach Kirk Ferentz said after bowl hopes were squashed for the first time since 2007.
Same story. Different day.
Iowa enters Friday’s 11 a.m. home game against 16th-ranked Nebraska trying to prevent losing a sixth straight game. The five-game drought is the Hawkeyes’ longest since the dropping the first five in 2000, and that was part of a 13-game overall losing streak that started with setbacks in the final eight games of 1999.
“To win would be awesome,” said linebacker James Morris, who played despite an array of injuries. “Is one game going to rectify a losing season?
“No it’s not, but we’re going to prepare to win.”
Saturday’s loss in which 8-3 Michigan scored touchdowns on its first six possessions, sealed 4-7 Iowa’s first regular-season losing record since going 3-9 in 2000. It added to the questions surrounding a program that participated in the BCS Orange Bowl after the 2009 season.
“It’s disappointing any time you don’t go to a bowl,” Ferentz said. “We’ll do our best to show up ready to win on Friday, and then when that’s over, we’ll address what’s in front of us just like we did after the 2007 season.
“We’ll go back to work and focus on finding solutions, and focus on seeing what we can to do get back where we want to be.”
Even the return of once-injured Mark Weisman couldn’t stop Michigan from staying in contention with Nebraska for the Big Ten Conference’s Legends Division title.
He rushed for 63 yards on 16 carries, while C.J. Fiedorowicz and the rest of the tight ends had a big day, Fiedorowicz getting career bests of 99 yards on eight catches.
Otherwise, it was a day the Hawkeyes would rather forget – especially Hawkeyes expected to defend passes.
“We had a couple mental errors in the back end,” said Collin Sleeper, one or many safeties Iowa used.
That was an understatement. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner averaged a whopping 17.4 yards per completion, and that’s why the Wolverines had 513 offensive yards. That’s the most yards against Iowa since the Wolverines mustered 522 in 2010.
He had seven completions of 29 yards or more, including a 51-yarder to Jeremy Gallon in the second quarter — during Michigan’s six-for-six touchdown stretch against a defense that played without its top tackler, linebacker Anthony Hitchens.
“We had a lot of guys nicked up this week,” Ferentz said. “Everybody has issues and problems. It’s how you handle it.
We’ve perhaps have had an inordinate amount, but you still have to navigate it and work through it.”
Michigan’s Denard Robinson worked through it. The shifty quarterback who missed recent games due to a nerve problem in his throwing elbow, returned to the lineup on Senior Day, but was used as a rusher – with 98 yards on 13 carries.
He had a big day on the ground, while Gallon and receiver Roy Roundtree combined for 10 catches and 216 yards through the air.
Iowa, meanwhile, just had a bad day.
“Clearly not a lot of positives on our side of the ball,’ Ferentz said. “Defensively, we didn’t have any answers for their attack, and that became pretty apparent pretty quickly.”
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football