Halftime reactions | Iowa football trails No. 4 Michigan, 13-0

The Hawkeyes were held scoreless in the first half of their 2021 Big Ten Championship Game rematch with the Wolverines.


Grace Smith

Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras throws a pass during a football game between Iowa and No. 4 Michigan at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022.

Austin Hanson and Chloe Peterson

No. 4 Michigan imposed its will upon Iowa football in the first half of Saturday’s game at Kinnick Stadium. The Wolverines lead, 13-0, and gained 236 yards of total offense. Iowa’s defense was allowing about 236 yards per game before Saturday’s contest started.

Iowa won the toss and deferred its decision to the second half. With the first-half choice, Michigan elected to recieve.

After they got the ball, the Wolverines knifed through the Hawkeyes’ defense, piecing together a 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. The Wolverines threw four passes on the drive.

Michigan’s second score of the half came via a 44-yard field goal from senior Jake Moody. The attempt was set up by a fourth-and-1 the Wolverines converted at the Iowa 33-yard line.

The Wolverines held the Hawkeyes scoreless in the first half. Senior quarterback Spencer Petras went 6-of-10 for 68 yards. Sophomore Leshon Williams and true freshman Kaleb Johnson were the Hawkeyes’ featured backs in the first half, taking a combined 8 carries for 23 yards.

Iowa will have the choice at the start of the half and likely elect to receive.

Michigan having its way with Iowa’s defense

The vaunted Iowa defense hasn’t put is best foot forward today. Sure, Michigan only scored 13 points in the first half. But that’s still the most points the Hawkeyes have surrendered in a game this year.

The Wolverines made moving the ball look easy from the opening kick on. On its first drive of the game, which was probably the most methodical I’ve seen any team playing Iowa put together this season, Michigan milked almost seven minutes off clock.  On the half, Michigan possessed the ball for 20 minutes and 39 second compared to Iowa’s 9:21

Michigan’s opening drive also marked the only time Iowa has surrendered a first-half touchdown this season.

Against an Iowa run defense that ranks sixth in the nation, Michigan picked up 131 yards on the ground. Running back Blake Corum gained 79 yards on 16 carries. Coming into the game, the Hawkeyes were allowing 73 yards per game to opposing ground attacks.

In the passing game, quarterback J.J. McCarthy went 13-of-18 for 105 yards. The Hawkeyes’ pass defense ranked 14th in the nation before Saturday’s game. Iowa has allowed about 163 passing yards per game this year.

The Hawkeyes also have not forced a turnover today. Iowa has racked up 11 turnovers this season — a near-three-per-game average.

If Iowa is going to crawl back into this game, it’ll need its defense to play as good as it has during the first four games of the season. A defensive score and one or two turnovers is a lot to ask, but that’s what it’s going to take for the Hawkeyes to win this game.

— Pregame Editor, Austin Hanson

Iowa still being let down by its offense

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Iowa’s offense is struggling.

This time, it doesn’t even have the cushion of the shutdown defense. 

After Michigan scored a touchdown in the first drive of the game, people joked on Twitter that the seven-point deficit was insurmountable. To be honest, it might.

Quarterback Spencer Petras and the rest of the Iowa offense seem to be having communication issues in their own stadium. Before a first-and-10 play in Iowa territory, Petras was shouting toward the sideline as the play clock was ticking down. 

Senior wide receiver Nico Ragaini jogged out to the huddle with 10 seconds before the snap, but Iowa was forced to take a timeout to avoid a delay of game penalty — 10 seconds wasn’t enough time to give Michigan’s defense its rightful chance to change personnel.

Mistakes like that, in your own stadium against the No. 4 team in the nation, can’t happen. 

Later in the drive, Petras threw three straight incomplete passes — including one that was horribly overthrown to a wide-open Brody Brecht — to put punter Tory Taylor on the field at Michigan’s 45-yard line. 

On the next drive, Michigan kicked a field goal.

Iowa did have some shining moments, like Petras’ 19-yard pass to Brecht.  But the Hawkeyes made dumb mistakes, like offensive lineman Gennings Dunker getting called for holding on a potential 20-yard run from Kaleb Johnson, or lineman Connor Colby receiving a clipping penalty that set the Hawkeyes back another 15 yards. 

The fact of the matter is that Iowa’s offense is not good. And much like the 2021 Big Ten Championship Game, the defense won’t be able to save the game.