Oct. 6, 2009
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- Iowa and the Big Ten Network
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — William Shakespeare wouldn’t have known a spread offense from three yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust. But when referring to the storied Michigan football program, you might as well paraphrase the English playwright:
“That which we call the Wolverine offense, by any other name would smell as sweet.”
Gone are the Bo Schembechler, Gary Moeller and Lloyd Carr-coached Michigan teams that combined to play in 16 Rose Bowls. Head coach Rich Rodriguez is in charge now with a spread offense and a true freshman quarterback, Tate Forcier, who has thrown for 894 yards and run for 154 more.
“It’s a different coat of paint, that’s for sure,” Ferentz said at his weekly press conference Tuesday inside the Hayden Fry Football Complex.
No. 12 and undefeated Iowa (5-0 overall, 1-0 Big Ten) hosts the Wolverines (4-1, 1-1) on Oct. 10 with a 7:05 p.m. kickoff inside Kinnick Stadium. It is Blackout Saturday and all Hawkeye fans are encouraged to wear black. Iowa is coming off a 24-21 nonconference victory against Arkansas State; Michigan lost its first game of the season, 26-20, in overtime at Michigan State.
“Basically you’re look at a team that’s one overtime away from being undefeated,” Ferentz said of the Wolverines. “They’re playing really well. It’s like every Michigan team that I can remember, it looks like they’ve got an awful lot of good players and they’re playing well, and I think the other thing that’s obvious is they went through a huge transition and certainly it’s a different style of play offensively, defensively.”
Michigan holds a 40-10-4 record in the all-time series, including victories in the last three meetings. The teams have not met since 2006 (a 20-6 win by the Wolverines). The Hawkeyes won back-to-back games in 2002 (34-9 in Ann Arbor) and 2003 (30-27 in Iowa City).
“Basically you’re look at a team that’s one overtime away from being undefeated. They’re playing really well. It’s like every Michigan team that I can remember, it looks like they’ve got an awful lot of good players.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
“The thing that’s weird is when you miss a team for two years and then get them back on the schedule, that’s always a little bit strange and weird and we’re going through that,” Ferentz said. “That street runs both ways, I’m sure.”
Iowa is looking to extend one winning streak and halt another Saturday. The Hawkeyes have won nine games in a row dating back to Nov. 1 of last year. A 10th consecutive win would be the first time that has happened at Iowa since the 1922-23 seasons. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes are trying to win on homecoming for the first time since a 47-17 triumph over Purdue in 2006. They have lost back-to-back homecoming games to Indiana (38-20 in 2007) and Northwestern (22-17 in 2008).
“Those were both disappointing games,” Ferentz said. “I think it was more of where we were at rather than homecoming. Neither were at night, though, were they? Apparently we haven’t done well the last two homecomings, so we’ll get that straightened out.”
The Iowa players have remained grounded, even with a national ranking and a successful start to the first five weeks of the season.
“Typically when you win there are still a lot of things that need to get cleaned up, and no matter your record you’re five games into it,” Ferentz said. “I think there is a lot of room for improvement. If you want to stay in the right side of the column you better be focused on that. That’s kind of where we’re at right now.”
The Hawkeyes are currently ranked fourth in the nation in pass efficiency defense and 10th in scoring defense (13.4 points per game).
Forcier and the Wolverines will try to dent those favorable figures on a national stage airing from Iowa City. It will be another big stage. Returning to the words of Shakespeare, “all the world’s a stage, and all the Hawkeyes and Wolverines merely players.”