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Defense / ST notes: Michigan puts the clamps on Iowa in Big Ten title game

Clayton Sayfie12/05/21
Article written by:On3 imageClayton Sayfie

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Michigan football Aidan Hutchinson
Michigan football DE Aidan Hutchinson is the Wolverines' all-time sack leader for a single season. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Michigan football was stingy and downright dominant against an overmatched Iowa offense, posting a 42-3 win in the Big Ten championship game Saturday night. The Wolverines allowed just 3.9 yards per play and 279 total yards (175 passing and 104 rushing), held the Hawkeyes to converting just 5 of 19 third-down attempts and had four tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Iowa did put together some drives, using the tight ends on underneath routes in the passing game. Hawkeye junior tight end Sam LaPorta had six catches for 62 yards, while redshirt freshman Luke Lachey added a 22-yard grab. The Hawkeyes drove to the Michigan 15-yard line twice, also making it to the U-M 4-yard line — but they came away with just three points on those drives, and for the game, with one missed field goal, a turnover on downs and a made kick.

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Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and Co. made some adjustments at the half, and Iowa mustered only 118 yards after the break.

Even after an impressive, and emotional, 42-27 beatdown of Ohio State last week, the Maize and Blue came out fired up and dialed in.

“We all just refocused,” junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson said. “It was really hard after such an emotional win last week. I mean, that was just insane. But we had to refocus. It was honestly hard a little bit, personally to get over that just because it was something that you’ve been thinking about for years.

“But we got our game plan, we focused on that, and we had a very dominant win today.”

Michigan Chases Spencer Petras, Harasses His Replacement

Iowa junior quarterback Spencer Petras went 9-of-22 passing for 137 yards, before giving way to sophomore Alex Padilla in the third quarter. Padilla wasn’t much better, connecting on 10 of his 15 attempts but for just 38 yards and throwing a fourth-quarter interception to Michigan redshirt freshman defensive back Caden Kolesar.

Overall, Iowa threw for 175 yards and 4.6 yards per attempt. The performance marked the fourth time Michigan has held a Big Ten opponent to 175 or less passing yards in a game.

Neither quarterback had much of a run game to rely on, either, and the Hawkeyes were forced to throw more once they got down. Michigan, which has now won 40 straight games when holding a 10-plus point lead at halftime, plays exceptionally well while ahead, and didn’t relent.

Junior running back Tyler Goodson — who entered the game with 1,101 yards on the season — had just 50 yards on 18 carries (2.8 yards per attempt), marking his second-lowest rushing total of the year. Redshirt freshman Gavin Williams had more success, running 12 times for 56 yards, but he was still largely held in check.

Aidan Hutchinson Wins Big Ten Championship Game MVP, Furthers His Case For Heisman Trophy

Michigan junior defensive end Aidan Hutchinson was named the MVP of the game, after racking up four tackles, one sack and two quarterback hurries. Hutchinson entered Saturday with the third-best odds to win the Heisman Trophy, which is handed out to college football’s most outstanding player.

For the season, he has a Michigan-record 14.0 sacks to go along with his 55 tackles, 15.0 stops for loss, two forced fumbles and 10 quarterback hurries. On top of that, his teammates say, his leadership has propelled the Wolverines to their first Big Ten title since 2004.

“It’s pretty self-explanatory: I think he deserves to be the Heisman Trophy winner,” sixth-year senior center Andrew Vastardis said. “He showed out every week, been a game changer, not just Saturdays. That guy puts it on the line every day in practice, every day in meetings. More dialed in, more committed and more dedicated than any guy I’ve ever been around. So, how can you not root for a guy like that?”

“I agree. He should win the Heisman,” second-year freshman running back Blake Corum added. “He comes in the facility every day, and he leads by example and he just gives it everything he has every time he steps on the field. Meetings. It doesn’t matter what it is. I think he’s proved to the world why he should win the Heisman. He’s just a tremendous player. I think he should get drafted No. 1.”

Miscellaneous Michigan Football Defense / Special Teams Notes

• Kolesar’s interception was the first of his career.

• Sophomore wide receiver Cornelius Johnson blocked a punt in the fourth quarter, marking his second of the season.

• For the second straight week and the fourth time this season, junior kicker Jake Moody did not attempt a field goal.

• Redshirt junior linebacker Josh Ross led the Wolverines with nine tackles, and no other player on the team had more than five stops.

• Michigan registered nine quarterback hurries.

• Fifth-year senior safety Brad Hawkins played in his 55th career game, adding to his all-time University of Michigan record for most games played during a career.