ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- Mike Hart kept his legs churning and his
knees chugging, plowing into an Iowa defense stacked to stop him.
It took a while, but Michigan's little engine finally broke
through -- and the Wolverines' defense did the rest.
Iowa gained 41 yards on 24 carries Saturday -- and the Hawkeyes should feel pretty good about it. Michigan's run defense, ranked No. 1 in the nation, has allowed only one team to gain 100 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, the Wolverines have held four different teams to less than 20 yards rushing, including such programs as Notre Dame and Wisconsin. Memo to Big Ten coaches: Might wanna add a few more pass plays to the game plan next time you're in the Big House.
Rush yards allowed
Hart and Michigan brushed off the burden of being No. 2 by
bullying the Hawkeyes around the Big House in a 20-6 victory on
The 5-foot-9, 196-pound tailback ran for 126 yards and two
second-half touchdowns on 31 carries, and linebacker Shawn Crable
and crew put together another punishing defensive performance.
With Iowa (5-3, 2-3) out of the way, only three losing teams
stand between Michigan (8-0, 5-0) and top-ranked Ohio State on Nov.
The Wolverines are trying to tune out the Ohio State talk and
take'em one at a time, but it's not easy.
"I guess you have to deal with it," Hart said. "Everyone is
talking about Ohio State, Ohio State. We know we have games before
then. Obviously, that's the big one, but we have three more
No. 2 has been a sticky spot in the Top 25 this season. Four
times already this season No. 2 has gone down, including the
previous two weeks when Auburn and Florida fell.
Michigan's first game as the second-ranked team in the country --
and second consecutive game without injured star receiver Mario
Manningham -- wasn't easy, either.
"You have to remember where you're trying to get," defensive
end LaMarr Woodley said. "It's not where you're ranked now."
Revered former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, who fell ill
Friday and was hospitalized, contacted school officials and told
them to let everyone know he was doing OK and watching the game.
He had to have liked what he saw.
Iowa, coming off a stunning 31-28 loss at Indiana that knocked
the Hawkeyes out of the rankings for the first time this season,
muscled up on defense, especially against the run.
The Hawkeyes crowded the line to contain Hart, the Big Ten's
second-leading rusher, and without Manningham, the Wolverines
couldn't go deep.
Hart was held to 27 yards on eight carries in the first half,
but the relentless junior appeared to get stronger as the game wore
on -- Michigan needed it.
"I think we wore down there a little bit at the end, and that's
what good running teams do," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said."
Iowa's Mike Humpal intercepted a pass that Chad Henne forced
into a crowd on the first possession of the second half at the
Michigan 27, and it set up Kyle Schlicher's 34-yard field goal to
tie it at 3.
Steve Breaston responded for Michigan, finding a seam in the
middle and returning the ensuing kickoff 64 yards to the Iowa 35.
The Wolverines took advantage of the short field, with Hart running
through tacklers on a 9-yard touchdown run that made it 10-3.
"You better make sure the full teams tackles him," Woodley
After Iowa got a 22-yard field goal from Schlicher to make it
10-6 with 2:11 left in the third quarter, Michigan went back to
He carried six times for 34 yards to help set up a 37-yard field
goal by Garrett Rivas to make it 13-6 with 12:55 left in the fourth
For Michigan's defense, ranked seventh in the nation and first
against the run, that was enough.
"They are without question the best defense we've played all
season," said Iowa quarterback Drew Tate, who faced Ohio State
just a few weeks ago.
On consecutive plays, Woodley and Crable sacked Tate deep in
Iowa territory. After Crable ran Tate out of bounds for his third
sack, fellow linebacker Prescott Burgess waved his arms and urged
on the roaring crowd of more than 110,000 before the third-down
Woodley blew through a blocker on the next play and nearly got
to Tate again.
"We knew he was hurting back there," Woodley said.
Hart put the capper on the game with a 10-yard TD run with 3:59
left through a big hole, one of the few he had all day. He went
over 1,000 yards rushing for the second time in his career.
Tate finished 21-for-36 for 197 yards and Dominique Douglas, who
has been nursing a knee injury, caught six passes for 63 yards.
Iowa could muster only 41 yards on the ground.
Henne went 23-for-33 for 203 yards and Adrian Arrington caught
eight passes for 79 yards.
But it was Hart and the running game that delivered the decisive
"More than anything else, we had patience in calling the
running game," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "We were big in
the second half."