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Hawks not afraid of being the underdog

[ 0 ] November 16, 2012 |

Quite frankly, no one is giving Iowa much of a chance to upset No. 23 Michigan today at the Big House in Ann Arbor, Mich.

“I’m glad they are not on the team,” senior center James Ferentz said. “We have about 120 guys on this team; I don’t think anyone has thrown up the white flag.

“We’re going to do everything we can to come out and beat Michigan.”

Iowa (4-8, 2-4) is on a four-game losing streak, the first since 2007 when Iowa went 6-6 and failed to make a bowl game.

Iowa hasn’t lost five in a row since 2000, when the Hawkeyes went 3-9.

So if Iowa is a 16.5-point underdog to the first rated team they’ve faced this season, it’s no surprise.

“It’s probably what we deserve right now,” Iowa senior tight end Zach Derby said. “If we can’t get excited to go into the Big House and play in front of 100,000 people, then maybe we shouldn’t be out playing football right now.

“Times like this really show what your true character is.”

They also get a Michigan (7-3, 5-1) team still in the hunt for a Legends Division title.

And a Wolverine team that has lost three in a row to the Hawkeyes. Michigan hasn’t beat Iowa since 2006.

And it’s Michigan’s Senior Day.

“I myself have not beaten Iowa yet, and I know just for selfish reasons it would be a huge motivation for me,” Michigan senior defensive end Craig Roh said. “I never want to go not beating a team in my career, and that’s something that we control.”

Michigan senior quarterback Denard Robinson isn’t expected to play today.

But junior Devin Gardner shifted from receiver back to quarterback and has led Michigan to a pair of wins the last two weeks.

“The other guy has really jumped in there and done a great job, too,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You can see him improving with each time out.”

In an overtime win against Northwestern, Gardner was 16-of-29 passing for 286 yards and also ran for 47 yards.

“He’s a dangerous player; we know that coming in,” Iowa senior cornerback Micah Hyde said. “If he starts to scramble, latch onto receivers and try to make the play.”

On the flip side, Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg may face one of his toughest challenges of a challenging season.

Michigan is ranked first in the Big Ten and first nationally in pass defense, giving up just 149.2 yards per game.

“Their secondary is playing well; I’m not minimizing that,” Ferentz said. “But the guys up front and their linebacker do a great job, and they mix things up so you really can’t get comfortable against them.”

For James Ferentz, Iowa can’t dig themselves another hole like they did last week against Purdue.

“We have to perform better in the first half, in those critical third down moments where it could possibly alter the outcome of the game,” James Ferentz said.

Iowa is 10th in the Big Ten in third-down conversions (36.1). Michigan is first (50.0).

With No. 16 Nebraska lurking on Black Friday, Iowa has to find some serious momentum to keep from being the first Hawkeye team since 2000 to not be bowl eligible.

“Everyone wishes we had an answer,” senior defensive lineman Steve Bigach said. “If we had an answer, we’d fix it.

“Sometimes in sports, something doesn’t go your way. You try to figure it out.”

Reach Ryan Suchomel at rsuchomel@press-citizen.com or 339-7368.

5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MICHIGAN

  • Michigan ranks first in the country in pass defense, giving up just 149.2 yards per game. They have not allowed 200 passing yards in any game this season.
  • Michigan coach Brady Hoke is 0-2 against Iowa. He lost last season and in 2005 when he was with Ball State.
  • Junior Devin Gardner is expected to play for senior Denard Robinson. Gardner has started the past two games after Robinson went out with an injury against Nebraska.
  • Michigan is converting 50 percent of the time on third down, first in the Big Ten and 12th nationally. But 16 of Denard Robinson’s third-down rush attempts have gone for first downs.
  • Michigan was eighth in the preseason AP poll but fell out after losses to Alabama and Notre Dame. They also lost to Nebraska.

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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Ryan Suchomel: Reach Ryan Suchomel at 339-7368 or rsuchomel@press-citizen.com. View author profile.

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