IOWA CITY, Iowa. – It was the first big road test for the Michigan Wolverines, and they looked well prepared as the men in maize took down the Iowa Hawkeyes 27-14, thanks to the play of Mike Morris and Eyabi Okie.
The Wolverines got a huge fourth-down stop in their own territory as the Hawkeyes were riding the momentum of what could have been a monumental upset which we’ve seen in years past at Kinnick Stadium.
After the offense stalled down the stretch, Morris, with under four minutes left in the game, opened up the drive of the Hawkeyes with his second sack of the day for a nine-yard loss. Morris burst off of the edge like a man possessed as he blew by offensive tackle Connor Colby (No. 77) and sacked quarterback Spencer Petras (No. 7) for the jackpot.
As the old saying goes, if some is good, then more is better, as Morris nearly cashed in again on the triple-seven play for another sack, but he forced an incomplete pass as Petras threw the ball in the dirt as he was going to the ground.
“It was a really gritty performance,” said Jim Harbaugh. “I thought our guys just really strained and played really hard, but Mike Morris is the guy you should talk to. Morris has a huge motor, and he’s 6′7 290 pounds, and he’s got a big heart.”
The repertoire of moves displayed in those plays was sensational, and they came at the right time.
“I told the team at halftime that they’re going to throw everything they got at us,” said Morris. “The coaches told us that on the first drive they’re going to throw everything that they have, everything out of their bag at us, and we took the punches. They punched us twice, but I feel like we stepped up to the plate and big-time players make big-time plays. It was a team effort, and everybody stepped up to the plate. Everybody did their job. The defensive backs covered, and we rushed the passer.”
Morris finished the day with three total tackles and two sacks. But, on third and 19, Okie got in on the triple-seven jackpot as he blew by Colby to get Petras down to the ground, assisting with Taylor Upshaw to cause the team’s second sack on the drive.
“We’re not even scratching the surface yet,” said Okie. “We’re still learning, and every week we’re getting better, which is why this team is just so dangerous. We’re no way near of how good we can be. We really try each other in practice as we go extremely hard in practice which makes moments like this easier.”
On fourth down and 24, Okie’s pass rush nearly got to Petras for back-to-back sacks, but the quarterback threw the ball in the dirt for a turnover on downs.
“It’s their non-stop determination every single play,” said J. J. McCarthy. “Every single play, every single stop. They go balls to the wall every single play, and they just have those God-given abilities that just make them (Okie, Morris) so special. I’m happy to see that they’re just going against another opponent.”
The Wolverines held Iowa to 281 total yards, with 246 coming through the air and 35 coming from the ground. Holding a team to under 50 yards rushing is a feat Michigan hasn’t done since 2021 against the Wisconsin Badgers.
Also, holding an opponent to under 100 yards rushing is something Michigan has done in three of their first five games in 2022.
The Hawkeyes came into Saturday’s game with the No. 1 ranked defense in the nation, but McCarthy kept his composure in his first road game as a starter, finishing the game going 18 for 25 for 155 passing yards and a touchdown.
The touchdown was one for the ages as he turned egg into egg salad by eluding a defender, escaping the pocket, and finding running back Donovan Edwards in the back of the endzone.
“It was huge just from a team standpoint as this was our first road game,” McCarthy said. “Especially coming into Kinnick Stadium with just the history and everything. It was just really awesome to get it done, and now we’re on to the next week.”
McCarthy was patient against Iowa’s defense, leading to the Wolverines snapping a four-game losing streak inside Kinnick Stadium, a place they haven’t won since 2005. The victory was also a first for Harbaugh as he entered Iowa City 0-3 as a player or coach.
There’s nothing like entering a hostile environment and leaving with a win. Like McCarthy, running back Blake Corum was patient all day as he carried the bell cow role, rushing 29 times for 133 yards and finishing with an incredible dead leg to seal the victory.
Corum has 376 yards rushing over his last two games, with almost 60 between the two. It is his second straight 100-yard game as well.
The Wolverines finished the day with 327 yards total, 172 yards on the ground, and 155 through the air. Suppose Michigan’s offense will play under control in a hostile environment such as Iowa City. In that case, the Wolverines will be dangerous, especially if that pass rush comes alive.