After Michigan’s thrilling and—during the waning seconds of regulation—unexpected, overtime win over Northwestern, the Wolverines are more than ready to turn the page to an Iowa team on its way to Ann Arbor this Saturday. This Hawkeye team is losers of four straight games since their overtime win against Michigan State.
In his presser Monday, Coach Hoke reiterated his pride in the resiliency, focus, and execution displayed to eek out the 38-31 win Saturday.
“They really stuck together during the whole game,” Hoke said. “They believed in each other, believed in what they were trying to get accomplished. I thought there were some really smart decisions made (late) by players, and by some of the guys on the staff.”
No doubt senior day this coming Saturday would have been a little less exciting if Northwestern had closed the door on the Wolverines. But with the late home run completion to Roundtree and the OT win, and with two big games remaining against Iowa and at Ohio State, Michigan still remains an outside possibility to represent the Leaders Division in the Big Ten championship game on December 1st.
For that reason, as well as the opportunity to avenge last year’s defeat at Kinnick Stadium, Michigan will continue its game-by-game approach while letting the rest of the chips fall exactly where they may.
“This week is a special week,” said Hoke. “Number one, our seniors. It’s the last time they get to play in the greatest stadium in this country, and to get to wear that blue jersey here at home—and so its really special for us as coaches and for those underclassmen to go out and play well.”
“Iowa as you know is a very good football team. They’ve lost the two last games by a total of six points. They run the football well. I think they’ve had some nicked up people when you look at it earlier in the year, but I think they’re really coming together.”
Iowa may not actually be a “great” football team as Hoke described Monday, but the Hawkeyes are a program that has a knack for coming up with an upset victory no one predicted.
In the 2007-08 season, Iowa squeaked out a win against 18th ranked Illinois, who came into the game riding a five game winning streak, by a final score of 10-6. That same Illini team made its way to the Rose Bowl after finishing the regular season 9 and 3.
In 2008, Iowa came into its showdown with an undefeated Penn State team sitting at 5 and 4, but the Hawkeyes, against all odds, won on a last second field goal 24 to 23. That loss at Kinnick Stadium was the only setback for the Nittany Lions who finished the regular season 11 and 1.
Who could forget the way Iowa beat an 8 and 0 Michigan State team during their 11 win season in 2010. The result: a 37-6 beat down of the Spartans at home.
And of course the Hawkeyes handed Michigan a crushing loss at Iowa City last year, 24-16, as the Wolverines were stopped after having first down at the Iowa three yard line with just 16 seconds left.
Iowa won’t have the luxury of a raucous crowd being on their side with yellow towels waving this year, but Michigan remains aware of the Hawkeyes’ ability to turn it on for an upset that could ruin the Wolverines’ perfect 13-0 mark at the Big House over the past two seasons.
“I never hear anything (from the team) but ‘Who’s next’,” said Hoke. “Who the opponent is. I think they know we’ve got to take care of ourselves. To achieve greatness you’ve got to put yourself in position, and you’ve got to take care of your business to do that.”
“You want to be able to control the things that you can do. And we do control what we can do—and that’s why Iowa is so significant.”