This week I am going to take a look at a sad yet very memorable trip to Iowa. To change things up, I have chosen to rewind a Michigan loss. I remember watching this game like it was yesterday, drinking beers in T9's apartment with a bunch of friends screaming at the TV.
Michigan was ranked #2 and they went to Iowa City where the Hawkeyes were ranked #1. It was a classic match up between Bo and Hayden Fry. Iowa was in the middle of a streak where they had a couple of great teams. They had shut out Michigan 26-0 the season before, one of six losses in my initial season of pain.
The 1985 Wolverines were on a mission of redemption (sound familiar?) only this time it was not an offensive revolution. The defense was incredible throughout the 1985 season. In beating Notre Dame, South Carolina, Maryland, Wisconsin and Michigan State, we had allowed exactly one touchdown—and only 4.2 points per game, lowest in the country. Iowa on the other hand had the number one scoring offense in the country, averaging 44.2 points per game. Something was going to have to give. They were led by 5th year quarterback and Heisman hopeful Chuck Long. Something had to give.
1st half: The Iowa offense dominated the time of possession, holding onto the ball for 20 of the first 30 minutes. They kicked a FG in the first quarter and led 3-0. Michigan responded with a Gerald White touchdown "flip" from Jim Harbaugh to make it 7-3. In the second quarter Iowa appeared to have scored a touchdown with a great end zone catch by wide receiver Scott Helverson, but the officials missed the call and there was no video replay in 1985. They had to settle for another FG and it was 7-6 at halftime.
2nd half: The defensive struggle continued and there was no scoring the third quarter. Both teams kicked a FG in the 4th quarter and Michigan still led 10-9. Iowa had a chance to take the lead with about seven and a half minutes left in the game, but their 44 yard field goal was short. Michigan needed to sustain a drive, change the field position, and win the game. The only issue was that our offense basically did not do anything all day, and they couldn't and had to punt. Chuck Long and Iowa marched the ball down the field in a excruciating 66 yard five and a half minute drive. They got the ball as far as the 12 yard line and called a time out with 2 seconds left. Bo called another time out to "ice" the kicker. But it did not matter. Iowa kicker Rob Houghtlin was a walk-on. He nailed it. Iowa 12 Michigan 10. Iowa fans storm the field. Andy wanders down South University in a daze wondering why the college football gods hate him so much.
What did we learn from this game: Field goals can beat you if you don't score many touchdowns. Chuck Long was a great college quarterback, too bad he got drafted by the Lions. Above all, Bo was a defensive minded coach. I miss what a soul-crushing defense can do to a football game. Although we lost, the fact we did not give up a touchdown to the #1 ranked team in the country was amazing. We ended that season with this loss and a 3-3 tie at Illinois, beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl and finished ranked #2 in the country by both the AP and UPI. Most importantly, this game set up the rematch in 1986, where Mike Gillette kicked a last second FG to beat them in Michigan Stadium.