HATS OFF TO THE DEFENSE
Wow, you can't ask for a much better game from the defense. Iowa held Michigan to only 98 rushing yards on 35 carries and only 201 yards. Who would have believed me if I told them that the Hawkeyes would have more yards of offense than the Wolverines tonight? Nobody. They got the stops when they needed them the most. It wasn't just a bend but don't break effort, either. They produced three and outs as well. The Hawkeyes won the time of possession battle 32:45 to 27:15. I think lots of folks thought the Iowa defense was capable of putting together strong performances but were being dealt pretty tough hands by their own offense. They were able to display how talented of a bunch they really are tonight.
OFFENSE DOES JUST ENOUGH
The offense didn't light up the scoreboard or log any impressive numbers. They still only produced 230 yards of offense. Beathard still only passed for 66 yards. But they did enough. They took care of the ball aside from the one interception from C.J. Beathard. But more than anything they just stayed on the field long enough to let their defense do what they do best. This was the Iowa formula to winning that we saw last year many times. Remember, Beathard threw for less than 100 yards against Wisconsin last year en route to a victory in Madison. Sure, you want to be more impressive but sometimes it's just how much you can do to give yourself a chance. Tonight, the numbers and stats be damned, Iowa's offense did enough because they possessed the ball enough, they didn't self-destruct with penalties, mistakes and turnovers, and they didn't negatively impact other areas of the team. There's still flaws but they gutted through it offensively just enough to give themselves a chance to win and the defense and special teams was able to flourish.
PUNTING GAME MATTERED
Wow, folks laugh a lot of times when you even mention how valuable a punter is for a particular game but there should be no chuckling about it tonight. Ron Coluzzi was an integral part to the victory. Keith Duncan was as well, obviously. Coluzzi pinned Michigan deep several times, including the magnificent punt that set up the safety by Jaleel Johnson. Those two points proved to be pretty significant. He toughed out a few plays that gave the offense extra life when he drew a few Michigan penalties. I think there's a lot to be said for how he responded after getting bit by the turf monster too on a 4th down where he was unable to get the punt off. He's been a great addition to the Iowa team this season and he came up huge tonight.
SOME STARS OF THE SHOW
Jaleel Johnson and Faith Ekakitie were beasts in the middle. They had a lot to do with taking Michigan's running game away. With about 7 NFL teams in attendance, Jaleel Johnson made himself a lot of money tonight most likely. He's a monster. There's not enough that can be said about the resilience and strong play from Ekakitie since Bazata went down with an injury. He's quietly playing the best football of his career this year. Brandon Snyder had the best game of his season tonight. Akrum Wadley was the entire offense for large stretches of the game and the Wolverines had no answer for him in the second half even when all of their attention began to be devoted solely to him. On the offensive line, Boone Myers and Sean Welsh were fantastic.
There was some production tonight that came from unlikely places. Miles Taylor went down early with an injury and did not return. In steps Anthony Gair and he had some mistakes but he was very effective and had a handful of great plays. I was thoroughly impressed with him. Bo Bower also had his best game and had a key pass deflection in the second half that forced a fourth down and a Michigan punt. Greg Mabin missed the game with an injury that he suffered in practice during the week and true freshman Manny Rugamba got his first career start. He was terrific all night and had the crucial interception late in the game. That's a huge moment for someone starting the first game of his career.