Saturday, October 01, 2022

Living Well is the Best Revenge

Mike Morris decided to end the game himself, and not a moment too soon.  (Patrick Barron | Shop)

Don't turn your talking points on meHistory will set me freeThe future's ours and you don't even rate a footnote nowSo who's chasing you? Where did you go?You disappeared mid-sentenceIn a judgment crisis I see my anecdote for itYou weakened shell
All your sad and lost apostlesHum my name and flare their nostrilsChoking on the bones you toss to themWell I'm not one to sit and spin'Cause living well's the best revengeBaby, I am calling you on that

--"Living Well is the Best Revenge" by R.E.M. from their 2008 album Accelerate 

Feelingsball is a bad way to coach, but it is supremely the way that many of us consume football.  Michigan never fell below a 90% win expectancy at any point in the second half, but after Iowa scored to make it 20-7, and Michigan went three and out after Blake Corum slammed into a fierce Iowa goalline defense on a third and one at the Michigan 33, it was starting to feel dicey.  It was not dicey, but the specters of Kinnick past lingers, even if they were not able to be seen.  Even though Brad Robbins boomed a 50-yard punt to put Iowa behind their own twenty-yard line, things did not feel good.

They had felt good early.  Michigan looked like it was running a clinic on the opening drive, 11 plays, 75 yards, 5 minutes, and a Ronnie Bell run for a touchdown.  Michigan wanted to put pressure on Iowa's offense that an early score would help facilitate that exact notion.  While Michigan would get a pair of Jake Moody field goals to go up 13-0 at the half, even with Iowa's documented offensive difficulties, it still did feel like more was needed.  So, after the beautiful JJ rollout right to Donovan Edwards on the angle route to make it 20-0, it felt like Michigan just needed one more drive to salt things away.  About that.

After the Robbins punt, Iowa proceeded to, in defiance of history and precedent, move the ball down the field.  The first touchdown could be explained away by the short field generated from the backward pass McCarthy threw, and Donovan Edwards covered for a loss, but not a turnover.  But now, Spencer Petras is actually hitting guys, Michigan's tackling is leaving something to be desired, and while it's taking some time, Iowa has fourth and two on the Michigan six...this is it, this is the play that will...and Iowa throws short of the sticks and commits offensive pass interference all at the same time.  Michigan gets the ball back, and Iowa is still down 20-7.  Michigan did go three and out again after this, but another Brad Robbins bomb, this one for 51 yards, and with four minutes left, Iowa still needed two scores.

That was when the defensive line decided to make the Iowa offense pay for its sins on the day and exorcised so many of the ghosts of Iowa City.  Mike Morris on first and second down brought the heat, leaving Iowa to face 3rd and 19 when Taylor Upshaw and Eyabi Okie teamed up for another five-yard sack and then Okie with a QB pressure on fourth down.  Michigan only held the ball for three plays on the next drive as well, but this time it was because Blake Corum shimmied and shook an All-America linebacker out of position for a touchdown to make it 27-7.  While Iowa would get a cosmetic score late against a very soft bit of coverage by Michigan, a top five maize and blue squad escaped Iowa City with a win to move to 5-0 for the second straight year, the first time since (checks notes) 2010-2011.  (Wait, really?  Yes.  Really.)

The fears in the game came from a storyline and the fears of what happened the last time Michigan visited Iowa City, in what felt like a lifetime ago.  But Kinnick is in the rearview and Michigan moves ahead to play at Bloomington next week with bowl eligibility possible with a win.  As Harbaugh said in his presser, the only way to get to 6-0 is to get to 5-0, so we'll see what happens next.

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