Michigan was ready to play at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium, right down to the pink towels.
The No. 4 Wolverines knew that five of the last six top 5 teams who played at the Hawkeyes’ home were beaten. Michigan was prepared.
Michigan scored on four of its first five possessions, then fought off a late Iowa rally for a 27-14 win on Saturday.
Blake Corum rushed for 133 yards and a touchdown, J.J. McCarthy threw for 155 yards and a touchdown and the Wolverines (5-0, 2-0 Big Ten Conference) were able to consistently move the ball against the Hawkeyes (3-2, 1-1).
Iowa came into the game leading the nation in scoring defense and ranked sixth in total defense and rushing defense, but Michigan had 327 yards, including 172 rushing yards.
Michigan, playing its first road game of the season, wasn’t going to be bothered with the atmosphere, and it started before the game.
The visiting team’s locker room at Iowa is known for the pink paint on the walls and ceiling. Several of the Wolverines countered the psychology by waving pink towels on the sideline before the opening kickoff.
“We wanted to embrace everything in front of us,” said Michigan defensive end Mike Morris.
Added McCarthy: “It let them know that we don’t care. Pink locker room, bring it out to the field. Doesn’t matter. Didn’t faze us.”
Ronnie Bell had a 16-yard touchdown run on the opening possession. Jake Moody’s two second-quarter field goals gave the Wolverines a 13-0 halftime lead, then McCarthy threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Donovan Edwards on Michigan’s opening possession of the third quarter.
Bell’s run finished an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock, a sign of how the Wolverines would control the game.
“That’s how you start a game,” Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh said. “It was an impressive drive, and the game was impressive all around.”
“Right from the get-go, I knew we had the jump on them,” said tight end Luke Schoonmaker.
“They did a good job of setting the tone, making it very difficult for us,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said.
Corum’s 20-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left in the game closed the scoring for the Wolverines.
It was the sixth 100-yard rushing game of Corum’s career. Corum, who had 29 carries, was coming off a career-high 243 yards in last weekend’s 34-27 victory over Maryland.
Michigan ran 66 plays, gaining an average of five yards per play. But the longest running play of the game was Corum’s touchdown run.
“I thought we did a good job of (patience),” Harbaugh said. “I thought we were just moving them off the ball really well.”
“Yeah, maybe we didn’t get the big ones,” Schoonmaker said. “But we added up the little ones, and it turned into something great. With that defense, we’re going to have to fight for every yard. We just had to execute.”
“We’ve got good backs, a good quarterback,” Keegan said. “We were playing with a lot of confidence today.”
Michigan continued its defensive mastery of the Hawkeyes, who have scored just 20 points combined in the last three games against the Wolverines.
Iowa didn’t score until Kaleb Johnson’s 2-yard touchdown run to start the fourth quarter, cutting the Michigan lead to 20-7. The Hawkeyes got to the Michigan 6 on their next possession, but Spencer Petras’ pass to Sam LaPorta went for only 1 yard on fourth-and-2.
“We didn’t flinch,” Michigan defensive end Jaylen Harrell said.
Petras, who finished with 246 passing yards, threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Luke Lachey with eight seconds left in the game for Iowa’s final points.
SNAPPING THE STREAK
Michigan had lost its last four games at Iowa. The last time the Wolverines won in Iowa City was in 2005, when they won 23-20 in overtime.
“We keep track of these things,” Harbaugh said.
The Wolverines should maintain their spot in the rankings after an impressive road win against one of the nation’s best defenses. Iowa had won five of its last six home games against top-five teams, but Michigan had no problem with the Hawkeyes, who didn’t provide a challenge until the fourth quarter.
Michigan: McCarthy, who completed 18 of 24 passes, was steady in his first road start, rarely challenged by an Iowa defense that had been opportunistic with turnovers the last two weeks. “When it’s all said and done, it’s just, ‘Do you, J.J.,” Harbaugh said.
Iowa: The Hawkeyes’ offense, which showed some life in wins over Nevada and Rutgers in the last two weeks, made too many mistakes. One first-half possession into Michigan territory ended with three consecutive overthrows by Petras, and another drive was stalled by a holding penalty that negated a 17-yard run by Johnson.
“We were just inconsistent to our standards in the first half,” Petras said. “We had three drives in the first half — on the first drive we couldn’t execute, on the second drive I couldn’t execute and the third drive penalties hurt us and we hurt ourselves.”
Michigan: At Indiana next Saturday.
Iowa: At Illinois next Saturday.