Halftime reactions | No. 13 Iowa trails No. 2 Michigan, 14-3

The Wolverines scored touchdowns on back-to-back offensive plays to take command of the first half of the Big Ten Championship Game.

Robert Read, Austin Hanson, and Chloe Peterson

INDIANAPOLIS — The No. 13 Iowa football team trails No. 2 Michigan, 14-3, at halftime of the Big Ten Championship Game.

Iowa kicker Caleb Shudak missed a 33-yard field goal on the first Hawkeye drive of the game. Michigan scored back-to-back touchdowns (going for 67 and 75 yards) shortly after to take a 14-0 lead. Shudak connected for three points late in the first quarter for Iowa’s first points of the day. Michigan is outgaining Iowa, 251-161. The Hawkeyes have two interceptions defensively in the first half, giving them 24 on the season — a program single-season record. Jack Campbell and Jermari Harris both recorded picks.

DI Pregame Editor Robert Read, Sports Editor Austin Hanson, and Assistant Sports Editor Chloe Peterson are in the press box at Lucas Oil Stadium covering the game. Here are their reactions to the first half.

Missed opportunities + allowing big plays = bad news for Iowa

Well, things looked promising for the Hawkeyes early.

Iowa forced Michigan to go three-and-out on its first drive of the game and the first time the Hawkeyes had the ball, they drove it into the red zone. But Shudak’s miss prevented Iowa from taking an early lead. And Michigan quickly responded, so Iowa might never see the lead at all. Amazingly, this Iowa defense allowed back-to-back long scoring plays. A 67-yard Blake Corum run on Michigan’s second drive put the Wolverines on top. It was the first run of 30+ yards Iowa has allowed this season. Then, after Iowa went three-and-out, Michigan scored again. Quickly.

On the first play of Michigan’s third offensive drive, a double-pass from running back Donovan Edwards to Roman Wilson went 75 yards for a touchdown. Just like that, Iowa felt completely out of the game. Tory Taylor and Iowa’s defense have made sure that’s not actually the case. But Iowa’s offense has been incapable of running the ball or finishing drives with points (even after Campbell’s pick). That’s a tough combination.

Probably too tough a combination to overcome.

– Robert Read, Pregame Editor

The Hawkeyes are playing ugly today, and they like it that way

I would characterize the half of football Iowa just played as disgusting. Gross, icky, yucky, and repulsive are also acceptable.

While things haven’t been pretty for the Hawkeyes, they’re playing football the way they want to. Iowa’s won games ugly all year long. No matter the circumstances, the Hawkeyes have found ways to gut out wins — even if all the victories have piled up in improbable fashion (i.e. the Nebraska, Penn State, Minnesota, and Illinois games).

Can the Hawkeyes grind out another tough win? I’m not really sure. But they’ve proven they can do it before, so why can’t they do it again today?

Much like it did against Nebraska last week, Iowa’s offense has shown enough promise to rally back from the 11-point deficit it faces. The Hawkeyes have picked up about 160 yards this half. So, they’re on pace to eclipse 300 yards on the day. 

The Hawkeyes have run a lot on third and long, but it’s helped them win the field position battle. Three of Iowa punter Tory Taylor’s five first-half kicks were downed inside the 10-yard line.

The Hawkeyes have also dominated time of possession. Iowa’s had the ball for 17 minutes and 15 seconds, compared to Michigan’s 12 minutes and 45 seconds.

I’m not sure if Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz can propel his team to yet another come-from-behind victory, but this game certainly smells and looks like some of the other contests Iowa has won in nasty fashion this year.

– Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

Stop running the ball

The Hawkeyes knew the Wolverines’ run defense was going to be a challenge.

So far, Iowa hasn’t been up for it.

At halftime, the Hawkeyes are averaging 2 yards per carry. Iowa has 35 rushing yards in 30 minutes of play.

In contrast, Michigan has 116 rushing yards — thanks in part to a 67-yard rushing touchdown from Wolverine running back Blake Corum.

Hawkeye running back Tyler Goodson hasn’t had the same success as Corum, however. Goodson is averaging just 2 yards per rush — down from his season average of 4.6 yards.

Goodson has seen a bevy of 2-yard rush plays throughout the first half, and his longest run came near the end of the second quarter for a whopping seven yards. If anything, that brought his rush average from 1.8 to 2 yards.

If Iowa wants to stay in this game (that is, if we can even argue if the Hawkeyes are still in the game), it will need to utilize the pass. Now, Hawkeye quarterback Spencer Petras hasn’t been the most effective passer so far during the conference championship, completing 8-of-17 passes for 126 yards, but it’s better than the Hawkeyes’ run attempts.

Or, if the Hawkeyes are really itching to run (which they shouldn’t be), they should at least utilize freshman Gavin Williams over Goodson.

Williams has 19 yards on five carries — an average of 3.8 yards per carry. 

Now, these decisions are up to offensive coordinator/play-caller Brian Ferentz. But Ferentz should know one thing: no team should ever run on third and 20. Ever. 

– Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor