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

Grading Iowa football’s performance against Michigan in Big Ten Championship

The Daily Iowan Pregame Reporter Cooper Worth gives his ratings following Iowa’s 26-0 loss.
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Cody Blissett
Michigan defensive end Derrick Moore sacks Iowa quarterback Deacon Hill to end the game during a football game between No. 18 Iowa and No. 2 Michigan at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. The Wolverines defeated the Hawkeyes, 26-0. Moore had one tackle.

Passing Offense: C+

The skill gap between Iowa’s wide receiver unit and the Wolverines’ secondary was made clear early on in the game as starters Nico Ragaini and Kaleb Brown struggled to make any meaningful separation when Brian Ferentz decided to open up the playbook during Iowa’s first couple of possessions when the offense was running plays out of their empty and bunch formations. Even the return of Diante Vines couldn’t offer a spark to the unit, as the redshirt junior finished with no catches after missing the three previous games with an injury. Deacon Hill had one of his better days of the season but still finished with a modest 120 yards on 18 out of 32 passing attempts. Tight end Addison Ostrenga arguably had his best game of the season, leading the Hawkeyes with seven receptions for 50 yards, proving that he is more than just a run-blocking tight-end in Iowa’s scheme.  

Rushing Offense: D-

We all know that Iowa isn’t winning any games rushing for 35 yards. The Wolverines have a stout defensive line and one the best overall units in the country, so not much fault can be blamed on a banged-up Hawkeyes offensive line that was missing one of its better run blockers in starting right tackle Gennings Dunker. Still, you would have thought Iowa’s coaching staff would have developed a better strategy in the run department, mainly since both running backs Leshon Williams and Kaleb Johnson played against Michigan last season (and performed better then). Also, Brian Ferentz needs to find more ways to get Kaleb Brown rushing with the ball that is not simply end-arounds. He has experience playing running back in high school—-Why not motion him in and out of the backfield?

Passing Defense: A-

The defense snatching four sacks on Michigan’s J.J McCarthy was huge in keeping Iowa fans’ spirits high going into the second half, as a defensive end Logan Lee and Co. got the timing down on a Michigan line that was also banged up with injuries. Even when McCarthy was able to avoid the pressure and scramble out of the pocket, Iowa’s secondary made sure not to give up any big yardage. However, McCarthy and receiver Cornelius Johnson were able to exploit Iowa’s secondary, playing too soft of coverage for easy eight-yard completions in the flat.

Rushing Defense: A-

Though the box score might say Iowa gave up two rushing touchdowns, those scores resulted from turnovers by the Iowa offense that resulted in bad field position for the defense. Iowa held Michigan star Blake Corum who was averaging 6.5 yards an attempt coming into the game, to just 3.3. On 16 carries, Corum’s longest run against Iowa was just six yards. Like it was most of the season, Iowa’s defense was put in some difficult circumstances against Michigan, but never did they give up, almost like the unit vowed not to have 40 points dropped on them again.

Special Teams: D+

Having seemingly been a lock for Iowa to perform most of the season, the Hawkeyes’ special teams units had some costly penalties and missed tackles that resulted in Michigan capitalizing big. Many knew that Iowa had to be nearly perfect on offense and defense to pull off an upset against Michigan, and there were just too many blunders on special teams that made it difficult for Iowa to recover. Even with Koen Entringer’s hustle play on the punt return, he should have made his initial tackle in the first place. Plus, Iowa’s two illegal block-in-the-back penalties cost both momentum and field position from solid Kaden Wetjen returns. It should be noted that punter Tory Taylor continued his streak of being one of the best punters in college football, consistently booting the ball 50-plus yards to set up Iowa’s defense in favorable territory. 

Coaching: C-

In a game where many believed creativity would abound, the Hawkeyes did nothing special on offense on Saturday besides the usual jet-sweep to Kaleb Brown. On Iowa’s first fumble of the day on third-and-2 should’ve been a run and not a pass, and to stubbornly attempt a fourth-and-1 via a QB sneak when practically the entire Michigan defense knew what was going to happen wasn’t the best decision. But hey, at least Brian Ferentz showed some passion.

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About the Contributors
Cooper Worth, Pregame reporter
(he/him/his)
Cooper Worth is a Pregame Reporter for The Daily Iowan. He is a senior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism and mass communication. He is also earning a minor in communication studies and an entrepreneurial management certificate. This is his third year at the DI, previously serving as a News Editor and as a News Reporter covering local government in Johnson County for the DI. Cooper interned for the Telegraph Herald in Dubuque, Iowa during the summer of 2023 as a general news reporter.
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
he/him/his
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.