Michigan football vs. Iowa game preview: How will Wolverines pass first road test of season

Wolverines have not won in Kinnick Stadium since 2005

Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) celebrates his 20-yard touchdown run against Connecticut in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Paul Sancya, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

IOWA CITY, Iowa – The Michigan Wolverines passed their first test of the 2022 season after they squeaked by the unranked Maryland Terrapins 34-27 at the Big House.

But this Saturday’s game in Iowa City is the first road test of the season as the Wolverines have not won in Kinnick Stadium since 2005.

Read: It’s time to find out if this Michigan football team has last year’s road resilience

Saturday’s (Oct. 1) matchup is a rematch of the 2021 Big Ten Title game where the Wolverines boat raced the Hawkeyes 42-3 in Indianapolis at the Big Ten Championship, but that was at a neutral site.

FILE - Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh celebrates with the team after the Big Ten championship NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Indianapolis. Michigan won 42-3. Harbaugh is The Associated Press college football coach of the year after leading the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title in 17 years and a berth in the College Football Playoff. (AP Photo/AJ Mast, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The men in maize are currently ranked in the top 4 of the College Football Playoff with a 4-0 record, but the Hawkeyes are no slouch as they’re 3-1 on the season, and they’re looking to avenge their embarrassing defeat in 2021.

Iowa Hawkeyes upsets

Iowa is well known for pulling off some amazing upsets at home, as they did so to the men in maize in 2016 when they defeated the, then No. 2 ranked Wolverines 14-13.

In the last 14 years, Iowa has been a top-five slayer at home, and per Jim Harbaugh on his radio show, he called Kinnick Stadium the place where top-five ranked teams go to die.

IOWA CITY, IOWA- NOVEMBER 12: Head coach Kirk Ferentz of the Iowa Hawkeyes before the match-up against the Michigan Wolverines, on November 12, 2016 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) (2016 Matthew Holst)

The Hawkeyes, since 2008, have upset five out of their last six top-five ranked opponents that have come to Iowa City. Their only loss was in 2017 when they fell 21-19 to No. 4 ranked Penn State.

If you’re wondering who those teams are, don’t worry. I got you covered.

2008Hawkeyes upset No. 3 Penn State24-23
2010Hawkeyes upset No. 5 Michigan State37-6
2016Hawkeyes upset No. 2 Michigan14-13
2017Hawkeyes upset No. 3 Ohio State55-24
2021Hawkeyes upset No. 4 Penn State23-20

To make matters worse, the Wolverines have not won in Kinnick Stadium in 17 years, and they’re currently riding a four-game losing streak in Iowa City.

2016Hawkeyes upset No. 2 Michigan14-13
2013Hawkeyes defeat Michigan24-21
2011Hawkeyes upset No. 15 Michigan24-16
2009No. 12 Hawkeyes defeat Michigan30-28

The last time Michigan won a game on the road in Iowa City was back in 2005 when running back Jerome Jackson punched in a short one-yard dive for six in a 23-20 overtime victory.

Jim Harbaugh

Iowa’s fans, Kinnick Stadium, and it’s atmosphere is like a house of terrors for the Wolverines, but where did it all start?

“It really goes back to the early 1980s with Norm Parker, coaching as the defensive coordinator at Michigan State,” said Harbaugh. “Parker’s been a defensive coordinator for over 30 years, but that is where Iowa’s defense originates. He happened to coach a defensive back by the name of Phil Parker at Michigan State.”

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 05: Defensive corrdinator Norm Parker of the Iowa Hawkeyes arrives at the stadium to coach against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the FedEx Orange Bowl at Land Shark Stadium on January 5, 2010 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images) (2010 Getty Images)

Harbaugh continued:

“In 1999, Iowa hired Norm Parker as their defensive coordinator and Phil Parker as the secondary coach. So, that defensive system has been in place since 1999. Phil Parker was the secondary coach for 13 years, and he recently took over as the defensive coordinator ever since. It’s a system, it’s a way of playing, and it’s the Parker way, and it’s really good. Everybody knows what to do. Everybody’s playing the proper leverage, technique, and fundamentals at all times.”

IOWA CITY, IOWA- SEPTEMBER 28: Defensive coordinator Phil Parker of the Iowa Hawkeyes warms up players before the match-up against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders on September 28, 2019 at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images) (2019 Matthew Holst)

Harbaugh talked about the dominance of the 2022 Hawkeyes’ defense and how they are a very opportunistic bunch that will capitalize on mistakes.

“It’s very opportunistic,” Harbaugh said. “The challenges that it presents, for instance, if you are inaccurate with a throw, overthrow, underthrow, a tipped ball, it’s likely going to result in a turnover. If you’re not as sound as you can be, then you’re in for a rough one. It’s a flawless scheme where everybody’s where they’re supposed to be. The challenge on offense is to make sure that you are really tight.”

The Hawkeyes have the nation’s No. 1 scoring defense, giving up a whopping 5.8 points per game through four games. They’ve only allowed two touchdowns and 23 total points thus far.

PISCATAWAY, NJ - SEPTEMBER 24: Defensive back Cooper DeJean #3 of the Iowa Hawkeyes intercepts a pass and returns for a touchdown against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights during the first quarter of a game at SHI Stadium on September 24, 2022 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) (2022 Getty Images)

Their defense is so stout that no team has scored a rushing touchdown against them this season. What do those defensive numbers mean for the Wolverines’ run game?

Blake Corum

“There’s an old saying in football,” Harbaugh said. “A running back that can miss somebody by the narrowest of margins is an unbelievable talent. Blake (Corum) can get so close to a would-be tackler within inches and then make the slight move where somebody that close doesn’t even touch him.”

Harbaugh continued:

“Some backs would make the cut a yard away or two yards away, but Blake Corum gets to the point where he can smell the defender’s breath and then make the slight six-inch cut and make them miss by the narrowest of margins. The vision, the low center of gravity, is why players talk about having a hard time finding him. The key to success is just how close he can get to a defender and miss by the narrowest of margins.”

Michigan running back Blake Corum (2) runs for an 11-yard touchdown against Connecticut in the second half of an NCAA college football game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya) (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

The running style that Harbaugh spoke about is probably the main reason that no player in program history has scored more touchdowns through the first four games of the season than Corum, who has nine so far.

Through four games, Corum has 64 carries for 478 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s averaging 7.5 yards per carry, but will he be enough to advance to 5-0 on the season?

The Wolverines are 10.5 favorites with a 42-point over/under, which is symmetrical as the Wolverines put up 42 points in the Big Ten Title game vs. the Hawkeyes in Indianapolis.

Can the Wolverines make it out of Iowa City still undefeated or will the Hawkeyes improve to 6-1 vs. top-five ranked teams in Kinnick Stadium?

About the Author:

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.