The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa football Week 14 notebook | Hawkeyes head into Indianapolis as underdogs but don’t doubt themselves

Facing off against Michigan’s dynamic running back and quarterback combination, Iowa’s defense is aware of the upcoming challenge.
Cody Blissett
Iowa defensive lineman Aaron Graves and linebacker Jay Higgins dive for the ball during a football game between Iowa and Nebraska at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln Nebraska on Friday, Nov. 23, 2023. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers 13-10.

If there’s one thing Iowa football left tackle Mason Richman is looking forward to when Iowa takes on Michigan on Saturday, it’s that the Hawkeyes will be the home team.

While the Big Ten Championship is at a neutral site in Indianapolis, the Big Ten West champion is the home team for 2023. For Richman, this means a much-needed wardrobe change. 

“I like those black jerseys a lot better,” the offensive lineman said at media availability on Monday. “They’re way more slimming than those white jerseys. I can’t stand those things sometimes. [Hawkeye right guard] Connor Colby is a size medium, and we’ve seen it on film [playing in white], and his whole belly button and underwear were showing.” 

Donning the home uniforms at Lucas Oil Stadium, Iowa is projected by many as having a slim chance of winning against the two-time conference champions. Casted as a 23-point underdog by DraftKings Sportsbook, the Hawkeyes aren’t seen as much of a threat in the public’s opinion. 

ESPN’s College Football GameDay host Rece Davis said Monday that Michgan’s victory is a “foregone conclusion.” Yet that sense of inevitability doesn’t permeate into Iowa’s team. 

“We put our four walls up. I mean, we just care about what’s inside here because it’s in our building,” Iowa linebacker Nick Jackson said on Tuesday. “We know what we believe in, we know what we do, we know our processes. That’s all we really care about, honestly.” 

Iowa’s processes, specifically on the defensive side, has served it well down the stretch this season, as coordinator Phil Parker’s unit has conceded just three touchdowns over the past six games. Over that span, the group has been dominant against the run, holding Rutgers’ Kyle Monangai, the Big Ten’s rushing leader at that point, to 39 yards in Week 11 and allowing more than 100 yards in a game just once. 

On Saturday, Jackson and the Iowa defense will have its biggest challenge yet against a Michigan ground game that has carried the Wolverines over their past three contests. Running backs accounted for all but two of Michgian’s  touchdowns over that time. 

Led by senior back Blake Corum with a nation-best 22 scores, the Maize and Blue are tied for third in the FBS with 33 rushing touchdowns and average 4.4 yards per carry. With the exclusion of opponent sacks, Michigan has lost just 59 yards on the season and ranks fourth nationally in fewest tackles for loss allowed. 

“He can always make somebody miss, and if he can find the right guy, he’ll run through somebody,” Jackson said of Corum. “Just anytime you get a chance to compete with a guy like that, that’s what you look forward to. That’s what you’re going to get in a game like this.” 

In a contest between two of the top-10 red zone defenses in the nation, capitalizing inside the 20-yard line will be no easy task for either side. Tasked with breaking through the Iowa front alongside Corum is Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy, who squared off against the Hawkeyes last season at Kinnick. In that contest, the then-sophomore completed 75 percent of his passes for 155 yards and a touchdown in a 27-14 Wolverine triumph. 

“I just remember how gifted and tremendous of an athlete he is,” Iowa defensive end Joe Evans said of that 2022 game. “How he is able to escape the pocket at any moment. And it’s not like he’s escaping to go throw the ball out [of bounds]. He’s escaping to go make a big play on the field.” 

This season, it’s been more of the same for McCarthy, who made a dip in his passing yards but has the best accuracy and passer rating of his career. 

“He’s going to make those good plays, going to make those dynamic plays,” Jackson added. “Shoot, I mean he’s just a playmaker. He deserves to be in the Heisman consideration.”

Injury Report 

Iowa wide receiver Kaleb Brown said Tuesday he has been practicing this week and should be ready to go against Michigan. Brown got banged up against Nebraska and did not return to action in the second half. 

In his weekly press conference, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said wide receiver Diante Vines and center Logan Jones, each of whom did not play last week, practiced Monday and Tuesday and are “fingers crossed” to play this weekend.

Right tackle Gennings Dunker also went down with an injury against the Cornhuskers, and Ferentz said the lineman did not practice on Monday but did for some of Tuesday’s session. Listed as the starter at his position, Ferentz said it’s possible Dunker will participate on Saturday. 

More to Discover
About the Contributors
Matt McGowan
Matt McGowan, Pregame Editor
he/him/his Matt McGowan is The Daily Iowan's Pregame Editor. He is a sophomore double majoring in journalism and mass communications and American studies with a minor in sport studies.  This is his second year with the DI
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.