Saturday, November 5, 2011
Final: Iowa 24, Michigan 16
By Adam Rittenberg
The day is only halfway over, and the Legends division has a very different look.
Iowa won a wild one 24-16 against No. 15 Michigan after holding the Wolverines on a goal-line stand that will spark much debate in the coming hours and days. A much-maligned Hawkeyes defense kept Denard Robinson and Michigan out of the end zone on four consecutive plays from the Iowa 3-yard line.
Everyone will be talking about the final two plays. Michigan wide receiver Junior Hemingway appeared to make a one-handed grab in the end zone, but officials ruled he was out of bounds. Replays appeared to show Hemingway's knee hit the ground in bounds, although the ball might have shifted in his hands when he hit the turf. A review determined there wasn't enough evidence for an overturn.
On the final play, an incomplete pass from Denard Robinson to Roy Roundtree, Iowa's B.J. Lowery had a lot of contact but didn't get flagged for pass interference.
Despite the controversial ending, Iowa gets a huge victory on its home field, where it improves to 6-0 this season. The Hawkeyes still control their own fate in the Legends division, and they host division leader Michigan State next week in a huge showdown at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa thumped the Spartans 37-6 last year in Iowa City.
For the second consecutive week, sophomore running back Marcus Coker was the big story for Iowa, and this time his production translated to a huge victory for Kirk Ferentz's crew.
Coker racked up 132 rush yards and two touchdowns on 29 carries, putting himself in the discussion for the Big Ten's top running back with Montee Ball, Silas Redd and Rex Burkhead. He's showing the form many of us thought he'd have entering the season.
Iowa's defense also deserves a ton of credit for limiting Michigan's offense most of the game. The Wolverines couldn't overcome a slow start, and Robinson had a shaky performance until the end, when he became Mr. Clutch for several scintillating minutes. Still, Robinson completed just 17 of 37 passes, had several balls batted down and threw his 12th interception, surpassing his total from all of last season.
The Wolverines defense played well late and allowed only 14 first downs and 302 total yards, but they couldn't stop Coker enough.
As a result, Michigan falls out of the Legends division lead and will need a lot of help down the stretch to reach Indianapolis.