Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Iowa Michigan thru the Years

Denard Robinson Warms Up in 2010
Iowa and Michigan may have been a rivalry for years before I was born. But when the Hawkeyes suffered through 20 years of non-winning football, it is hard for me to imagine the maize and blue program worried about Iowa. My first memory of Iowa becomming a concern to the Michigan program was in 1981. On an October afternoon that very few thought the Hawkeyes had a chance, Tom Nichol connected on three field goals for a 9-7 victory in the Big House. It was a monumental victory for a team to reach the Rose Bowl, but it was the first of exciting games between the Hawkeyes and Wolverines.

Of course some of the more memorable games come when the Hawkeyes are victorious. One of those would be in 1985 when Rob Houghtlin connected on four field goals, the last coming with :02 on the clock as #1 Iowa defeated #2 Michigan 12-10. Then a year after that, the game came down to another field goal, but this time it was Michigan on the winning end, 16-13.

Hayden Fry's Hawkeye teams always played Michigan strong. Rarely was there a blowout either way in the series, and typically it was the one "Big 2" team the Hawkeyes historically played well. His last win in 1990 may have rivaled that of 1981. John Derby's interception with under a minute to go sealed the 24-23 come from behind victory.

That didn't change once Kirk Ferentz became head coach. Especially in the early 2000s the match-up was always one of the more physical games of the year for either team. 2001 was remembered by many Iowa fans for C.J. Jones returning a punt for a touchdown. Although the Hawkeyes lost, Michigan received the message loud and clear that Iowa would never be an easy team. And that was seen again the following year when Iowa thoroughly beat the Wolverines 34-9. The next few years games went down to the wire, and each team was spent at the end as it was the most physical battle for either.

After Lloyd Carr retired, the Hawkeyes had Rich Rodriguez's number. The newest head coach of the Wolverines could not defeat the Hawkeyes, but the effort was their for the entire 60 minutes. Now Brady Hoke paces the Michigan sideline. A one-time assistant coach for the Wolverines has returned the Michigan swagger that had been missing since the departure of Lloyd Carr.

Hoke and Ferentz may continue the great rivalry that was started by Fry and Bo Schembechler. Hoke is definitely a "Michigan Man." Saturday should return the physical football fans of the series had been missing over the last few years.

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