11/12/2016 – Michigan 13, Iowa 14 – 9-1, 6-1 Big Ten
The punt landed on the four and took an abrupt right turn, as if God himself had decided to intervene with a brief misapplication of the rules of physics. In my experience punts do not do this. Usually they continue forward on their merry way. Sometimes they'll catch the turf in a particular way and bounce backwards, which still would have been great for Iowa but not quite as great as what happened. Which was, again, a punt hitting inside the five and veering away from the endzone like it was remote-controlled. It settled at the two.
Behind me, an Iowa fan exclaimed "RON COLUZZI IS A GOLDEN GOD." You, dear reader, may think this was some sort of cynical punt-to-win exclamation from a fanbase that hasn't had much else to hold onto this year. I do not think this was the case. Coluzzi had already dropped a coffin corner punt inside Michigan's ten and induced Devin Bush's ejection with a certainly-intentional mid-play flip. I feel that the Iowa fan was expressing a genuine opinion that Ron Coluzzi has occult powers given to him in a satanic ritual.
After Khalid Hill fielded a pop-up to start the second half and fumbled it to Iowa, I had no choice but to agree. Ron Coluzzi is a golden god. Yea, and wroth.
The game veered at the same instant that punt did. Michigan was up 10-0 after a 72-yard touchdown drive and had collected 125 yards midway through the second quarter—not the flamethrower operation they'd been the previous three weeks, but not bad for three drives, one of them starting in Iowa territory and ending with a goal-to-go field goal.
Two plays later Michigan had given up a safety because Kyle Kalis let Iowa's best lineman into the backfield more or less free. Their next four drives went three-and-out, with a fifth stillborn thanks to Coluzzi's occult powers. Passes were dropped. Deep balls were vastly errant. Michigan's ground game could do little against a defense that just gave up a 300-yard day to Penn State.
And what do you say about that? Michigan appeared to be a knockoff version of itself, cheaply made and sold out of the back of a van. Iowa was vastly improved in this game after a wakeup call against Penn State. They brought out a bunch of traps and quick pitches and in general looked like a team actively attempting to win a football game, instead of one present at it and hoping things go their way. Desmond King made a series of excellent run defense plays; Jaleel Johnson got a bunch of pressure; Akrum Wadley is currently looking at an industrial washer on the spin cycle and thinking is that all you got? They were good enough to compete.
They should not have been good enough to win. This had little to do with the Iowa defense:
...an array of overthrown, late and underthrown deep balls saw the Michigan quarterback complete just one of his 13 passes aimed 10 or more yards down the field — a 29-yard gain to Jehu Chesson.
PFF had Iowa's coverage -4.2 on the night largely because Amara Darboh repeatedly got screamingly wide open downfield. Two yards here, four yards there—nobody was in his area code. Michigan completed none of these throws. When Wilton Speight did give his receivers reasonable opportunities, too many times they went clang. Chesson, Butt, and Darboh all had reasonably catchable balls thunk off their hands and too the turf. Yes, Speight could have done better. Yes, the receivers could have done better. They did not.
Michigan isn't this team. Unfortunately, it appears that neither are they the rampaging death machine that stomped through this season, barely dented by nine different teams' best shot. Because of the 9 in the record above and the way that 9 was acquired, this game has drawn a truly epic amount of stupid overreactions to it. This means Michigan isn't 'Bama. It doesn't mean they can't beat a team that beat Northwestern 24-20 at home.
How much of this is Michigan being a CLOWN FRAUD and how much is just college football losing its damn mind like it always does it yet to be determined. Ron Coluzzi is a golden god; Ron Coluzzi probably did not plan for his punt to veer sideways. Randomness is always a factor. Teams put up stinkers every year for no other reason than having a bunch of weighted coin flips go the wrong way, and it's not hard to move one or two balls a couple feet and exit this game undefeated and not particularly challenged.
They did not, and now it's a long wait to see how much of a weird night in Iowa is being in the wrong place when a punter ascends to the heavens and how much are real chinks in Michigan's once-impregnable armor.
Known Friends And Trusted Agents Of The Week
you're the man now, dog
#1 Chris Wormley had a sack and another TFL; he did a great job on a reverse to pursue and get outside to hold the damage down on a play that looked real bad for a second; he bounced between DE and DT and was consistently pushing the middle of the pocket on passing plays; he dismissed various tight ends with authority, as per usual. His impact outstripped the box score, and the box score is pretty good.
#2 Taco Charlton was similarly dominant on the night. He got the hit on Beathard that resulted in the late interception, dismissed yet more tight ends, and had a major hand in Michigan's dominant pass rush despite not picking up the stats himself.
#3 Channing Stribling had that late interception and was repeatedly tested by an Iowa offense determined to keep it away from Jourdan Lewis at all costs. He had multiple pass breakups and dominated a couple plays so comprehensively that Beathard just booted the ball out of bounds instead of risking a throw. A pass or two completed against him and some iffy run D don't offset an otherwise terrific game.
Honorable mention: Jourdan Lewis, as per usual. Ryan Glasgow and Maurice Hurst were both good on the interior; Chris Evans had a solid day running the ball; Mason Cole was a bright spot on an OL that had a rough night.
10: Wilton Speight (#1 UCF, #1 Illinois, #3 MSU, #1 Maryland)
9: Jabrill Peppers(T2, Hawaii; #3 UCF, #1 Colorado, #2 Rutgers, #2 MSU)
5: Ryan Glasgow(#2 UCF, #1 UW), Chris Wormley (three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #1 Iowa), Taco Charlton(three-way T1, PSU, same vs Rutgers, #3 Maryland, #2 Iowa).
3: Mike McCray(#1, Hawaii), Ben Gedeon(#3 Colorado, #3 PSU, three-way T1 Rutgers), Amara Darboh(#1 MSU), Jourdan Lewis (#3 UW, #2 Maryland).
2.5: Karan Higdon(four-way T2, PSU, #2 Illinois).
2: Jake Butt(#2 Colorado), Kyle Kalis (#2 UW)
1: Delano Hill (T2, Hawaii), Chris Evans (T3, Hawaii, four-way T2, PSU), Maurice Hurst (three-way T1, PSU), Devin Asiasi(#3 Rutgers), Ben Braden (#3 Illinois), Channing Stribling (#3 Iowa).
0.5: Mason Cole(T3, Hawaii), De'Veon Smith (four-way T2, PSU), Ty Isaac (four-way T2, PSU).
Who's Got It Better Than Us Of The Week
This week's best thing ever.
Ty Isaac puts Michigan up 10-0.
Honorable mention: Interception that nearly sealed the game; Kenny Allen nails a 51-yard field goal to give Michigan the lead.
Hawaii: Laughter-inducing Peppers punt return.
UCF: Speight opens his Rex Grossman account.
Colorado: Peppers cashes it in.
PSU: Wormley's sack establishes a theme.
UW: Darboh puts Michigan ahead for good.
Rutgers: Peppers presses "on".
Illinois: TRAIN 2.0.
MSU: lol, two points.
Maryland: very complicated bomb.
Iowa: The touchdown.
MARCUS HALL EPIC DOUBLE BIRD OF THE WEEK.
This week's worst thing ever.
Kyle Kalis leaves Jaleel Johnson on the two yard line, creating a safety that started Michigan's weird ride towards a loss.
Honorable mention: QB sneak is down a yard short of the first down line and is not reviewed; Ron Coluzzi being a golden god repeatedly; Darboh can't bring in a fade that would have just about ended it
PREVIOUS EPIC DOUBLE BIRDs
Hawaii: Not Mone again.
UCF: Uh, Dymonte, you may want to either tackle or at least lightly brush that guy.
Colorado: Speight blindsided.
PSU: Clark's noncontact ACL injury.
UW: Newsome joins the ranks of the injured.
Rutgers: you can't call back the Mona Lisa of punt returns, man.
Illinois: They scored a what now? On Michigan? A touchdown?
Michigan State: a terrifying first drive momentarily makes you think you're in the mirror universe.
Maryland: Edge defense is a confirmed issue.
Iowa: Kalis hands Iowa a safety.
[After THE JUMP: WELP.]