Iowa's 5 Greatest Gridiron Wins over the Michigan Wolverines
Can the Hawkeyes sink any lower after their unscripted loss to the Minnesota Gophers last Saturday?
The best way for the down-trodden Iowa team to fly high again is to beat the BCS ranked No. 15 Michigan Wolverines inside Kinnick Stadium on November 5.
Last year in October the Hawkeyes defeated the Wolverines in Ann Arbor before the “bad times” befell Iowa—starting with their November 13 loss to the Northwestern Wildcats.
The 2011 Michigan team has more depth and talent on defense than their 2010 counterparts. It is conceivable that the Wolverines, perhaps, enjoy more options on offense—although this is still not a team without flaws.
Iowa’s primary weakness is on defense—which is shocking for a Norm Parker coached unit. The talent is still jelling. But take heart Iowa fans—there is enough time left for Iowa to salvage their season, starting in November.
If the truth be told, looking at the history of this annual contest—Michigan seldom loses to Iowa.
Since 1900 the Hawkeye record stands at 12-40-4 against the Wolverines.
Iowa won gridiron contests in 1900, 1924, 1958, 1962, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1990, 2002, 2003, 2009 and 2010.
Seven of the 12 wins have been on the road––over half.
But, this time, the Hawkeyes need to hunker down in Kinnick Stadium and find a way to win.
Will a 2011 victory supplant one of the Hawkeyes' five best wins over the Wolverines in Iowa football history?
1981: Iowa Defeats Michigan 9-7 in Ann Arbor
Iowa had not defeated Mighty Michigan since 1962. Almost 20 years.
Hawkeye fans were starved after a steady diet of Michigan dust and Bo Schembechler diatribes.
When Iowa won a thriller, 9-7, on October 17, 1981 over the highly ranked Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, the Hawkeyes claimed the No. 1 spot in the Big Ten Conference race.
Iowa’s defense literally shut down the Michigan offense, holding them to one score on the day.
Iowa’s offense, although not scintillating, was good enough to win this hard-fought contest. Michigan fell for the second time in the season to 4-2 with two losses in the Big Ten.
Iowa did it by controlling the ball, allowing no turnovers––in general by keeping the Michigan offense off the field. Iowa held onto the ball for 36:56 minutes while Michigan managed only 23:04 minutes on the day. Iowa ran 73 plays on offense to Michigan’s 56.
Michigan’s only score came on a 17-yard pass from Wolverine QB Steve Smith to famed Michigan wide receiver Anthony Carter in the second quarter.
It was the only touchdown of the day.
Iowa’s scoring came off the toe of place kicker Tom Nichol who booted through three field goals of 20, 36 and 30 yards to give Iowa all nine of its points with his soccer-style kick.
The winning kick came with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter.
That was all the Iowa defense needed to secure the win as the persistent Hawkeyes kept the Michigan offense at bay all afternoon.
Iowa had arrived back in the conversation in the Big Ten.
1985: Iowa Wins in Iowa City, Defeating Michigan 12-10
Iowa was ranked No. 1 for the first time since 1960 while Michigan stood ranked at No. 2.
The Hawkeyes were riding high. Chuck Long, Iowa's quarterback, was in the running for the Heisman Trophy. But first Iowa needed to secure their place at the top of the polls by defeating Michigan at home in Kinnick Stadium.
At the end of the game, the headlines should have read Iowa place kicker Rob Houghtlin 12, Michigan 10. Houghtlin gave No. 1 ranked Iowa four field goals on the afternoon as the Hawkeyes struggled to keep pace offensively against the No. 2 ranked Wolverines.
The Michigan defense once again allowed no touchdowns on the day—for the fifth time in six games.
Even so, Iowa found a way to win––by also employing stingy defense––as usual.
The only touchdown of the day came on a six-yard pass from Michigan QB Jim Harbough to fullback Gerald White halfway through the second quarter.
Houghtlin’s first 35-yard kick came with 5:55 gone in the second period, scoring another 3-pointer on a 27-yard kick on the final play of the first half.
But Michigan took the 7-6 lead into the locker room at the halftime.
Houghtlin added another 36-yard field goal to go up 9-7 in the fourth period.
Michigan’s place kicker countered, adding his own 40-yard field goal a short time later. This allowed Michigan to surge ahead, 10-9.
After Houghtlin missed an attempt from 44 yards, the place kicker was able to redeem himself. On the final play of the game, Iowa's famed place kicker booted a 29-yard field goal to secure the win and keep Iowa's No. 1 spot secure for another week.
Needless to say, a gleeful Iowa crowd stormed the field and Beano Cook finally had to eat his words!
1990: Iowa Triumphs 24-23 in Ann Arbor
Iowa was coming off a losing season in 1989—as the bloom was definitely off the rose. Earlier glory days of the 1980s seemed to be fading.
Yet it seemed that Iowa might be climbing out of their recent funk and into the limelight as the Hawkeyes came into Michigan in 1990 with a 4-1 record and a ranking of No. 23.
Hope blooms eternal for Hawkeyes and their fans.
No. 10 Michigan was waiting to fulfill their own destiny—which for the Wolverines necessitated putting the Iowa Hawkeyes down.
It did not look good early for the Iowa faithful as Michigan built a 14-7 halftime lead.
When Michigan, led by quarterback Elvis Grbac, seemed to be cruising, taking a 20-10 lead in the third quarter, Iowa roared back, putting on their defensive brakes.
The Hawkeyes shut down the Michigan offense—holding them to three first downs in the second half.
Michigan, however, fought hard to overcome stiff resistance long enough to score on a field goal in the fourth quarter, stretching their lead.
Iowa was led by quarterback Matt Rodgers, who passed for one score and ran the ball in for a second touchdown on the afternoon.
But the best thing Rodgers did was lead Iowa down the field on the final drive of the game to score against the Wolverines and lift Iowa past Michigan to score a major upset in the Big Ten.
Iowa was behind, 23-17, with just a little over four minutes left on the clock.
Rodgers led the Hawkeyes on an amazing run—85 yards down the field with Paul Kujawa going in from the one-yard line to score, sending Iowa up by one.
As usual, Iowa’s defense did their part to stall the Wolverine offense in key moments, allowing Iowa to leave Ann Arbor 5-1, 3-0 in the Big Ten. It was another glorious win.
2003: Iowa Escapes 30-27 in Iowa City
Kirk Ferentz had taken over the Iowa football program in 1999 after esteemed coach Hayden Fry retired after a 20-year stay in Iowa City.
The first few years under Ferentz were rough. Eventually, however, the Iowa squad began to rebuild, finding success and respect.
In 2002, after seven years of losing to Michigan, Iowa finally won at Ann Arbor, 34-9.
In 2003, coming into the game against Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa was ranked No. 19 and Michigan was ranked No. 9.
Nothing went well from the outset for the Iowa Hawkeyes, as they fell behind to the Wolverines 14-0 in the first quarter. That was not part of the Iowa script for victory, especially after suffering an embarrassing loss the week before to an unranked Michigan State team.
Iowa quarterback Nathan Chandler finally scored, running the ball in from the six-yard line to get Iowa on the board in the first quarter. But the real impetus for the Hawkeyes came from the toe of kicker Nate Kaeding—who gave Iowa nine points on three field goals.
The play action of Iowa duo QB Chandler and preseason All-American running back Fred Russell kept Michigan stymied most of the afternoon, even though Michigan had prepared to stop the run by keying in on Russell.
At halftime Iowa trailed, 20-17.
Iowa went up by three points in the third quarter after Kaeding made two of his three field goals of the day. At that point Iowa led 23-20. This would be another of those down-to-the-wire games Iowa fans were growing accustomed to.
Iowa scored another touchdown when Chandler completed a 31-yard pass to Ramon Ochoa with 5:16 left in the fourth quarter—the score 30-20 in Iowa's favor.
But Michigan quarterback John Navarre was not finished. He completed a 41-yard pass play to Braylon Edwards to pull Michigan back to within three.
Iowa’s defense, however, held. The Hawkeyes kept Michigan, who threatened in the closing moments, from scoring again.
Iowa survived to win two in a row against the vaunted Michigan Wolverines.
2009: Iowa Hangs on to Win 30-28 in Iowa City
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It was homecoming in Iowa City, and the Hawkeyes entered the contest 5-0, while Michigan came in on shakier ground at 4-1.
Iowa and Michigan had not played each other since 2006, and Iowa had not defeated Michigan since their 30-27 victory in 2003.
The first quarter brought out the heat, as both quarterbacks suffered from interceptions as they attempted their first pass of the evening.
Ricky Stanzi was picked off by corner Donovan Warren, who scampered into the end zone to give Michigan a 7-0 lead. But Stanzi did not let this deter him, as he found a wide-open Tony Moeaki, who scored for Iowa to even the score.
Then Jeremiah Hunter picked off a toss by Tate Forcier, which led to an Iowa field goal and an Iowa lead of 10-7.
But Michigan showed up to play football, and they engineered another successful drive into the end zone, scoring the first rushing touchdown against an Iowa defense in 33 quarters—the last one coming from Penn State in 2008.
Before the half, Daniel Murray gave Iowa another field goal to bring Iowa within one, 14-13, with 12:50 left in the half. When Forcier fumbled, Iowa took over and scored again as Brandon Wegher leaped into the end zone.
Iowa led 20-14.
Iowa started the third quarter with a Murray field goal, now leading 23-14.
But Michigan fought back, scoring a touchdown on a run by Wolverine Brandon Minor, and Michigan closed to within two, 23-21, with under five minutes left in the third quarter.
After many missed opportunities, Iowa scored its final touchdown on a pass from Stanzi to Moeaki after a brilliant punt return by Colin Sandeman gave Iowa possession on the Michigan 42-yard line.
Michigan scored again, this time under the leadership of QB Denard Robinson, who ran it in himself for Michigan’s final score.
The clock ran out with Iowa holding on 30-28 in Iowa City. Iowa moved to 6-0 for the season—still perfect on the year.
Life was good in Iowa City.