Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
ANN ARBOR, Mich., -- Three flags flew into the air near the end of a game.
Wide receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley's personal foul penalty in the twilight of the Hawkeyes' 42-17 loss to No. 23 Michigan was the last bit of fight to come out of the Hawkeyes (4-7, 2-5 Big Ten).
After that, it was scramble, incomplete pass and then get off the field so the Wolverines (8-3, 6-1) could enjoy their victory lap and soak in the warm cheers on a senior day before a Michigan Stadium crowd of 113,016.
Quarterback Devin Gardner drove Michigan for touchdowns on its first six possessions and the Wolverines did pretty much whatever it wanted to do against a depleted Iowa defense. When the little black rubber chips settled back into the stadium turf, UM had 513 yards of offense, with Gardner completing 18 of 23 for 314 yards and three TDs.
Iowa, which faces Nebraska (8-3, 6-1) on Friday, knew what to do at the end, assembling in "the swarm" and then jogging up the tunnel, onto the bus and into a seat on the charter. Iowa didn't know what to do at really any other moment during its fifth straight loss, its longest losing streak during a season since losing the first five in 2000.
This was a day where Iowa played as though it knew its place in the Big Ten world. Same could be said for the season and the conference record.
Get out of the way, Iowa, injured UM quarterback Denard Robinson, who still rushed for 98 yards, needs to throw his cap in the stands as he runs up the Michigan Stadium tunnel for the last time. Sit down, Hawkeyes, while the Wolverines snap the three-game losing streak you had over them.
It goes without saying at this point, but for the record, Iowa will be shutout of a bowl game for the first time since 2007 and won't be eligible for the postseason for the first time since a 3-9 finish in 2000.
"It's disappointing anytime you don't go to a bowl," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "Everybody in the conference has same goals, championship, bowl games and all those things. You earn those things and they're simply decided on the field by winning.
"If you don't make it, you don't make it. You go back to work and that's what we're going to have to do."
Iowa's defense -- which had linebackers James Morris in and out of the lineup with a leg injury and Anthony Hitchens out with illness -- handed out big plays like going-away presents. Robinson had a 40-yard rush. Gardner had completions of 51, 37, 31, 29 and 20. The Wolverines finished Iowa with a two-TD flurry late in the first half for a 28-10 lead.
Gardner, whose pass efficiency number Saturday was 227.28, hit wide receiver Jeremy Gallon for a 31-yard gain to Iowa's 35. Gardner faced no pressure and easily found Gallon tucked between cornerback Micah Hyde and safety Tanner Miller. The next play was even worse. Gardner rolled right and almost teased an Iowa defender to come and get him. When the Hawkeyes closed, Gardner cut up field and found wide receiver Roy Roundtree for a 17-yard gain to Iowa's 18.
It was almost teasing at that point.
"You've got to keep doing your job, you have to stay in your zone and you have to keep putting on pressure," linebacker Christian Kirksey said. "There's no one thing right now, we've just got to play better defense."
Iowa's offense answered Michigan's first score with a 14-play, 75-yard drive, capped by James Vandenberg's 16-yard TD pass to tight end Henry Krieger-Coble. Running back Mark Weisman, who played extensively for the first time in four weeks (ankle, groin injuries), moved the drive. Tight end C.J. Feidorowicz caught four passes to help things along.
Hey, Weisman, tight ends, game on, right? Michigan went right back to work, with Gardner hitting Roundtree for a 37-yard TD on a third-and-17 play after Iowa dropped a coverage. The Hawkeyes answered with a field goal and simply couldn't match stride.
Player for player, Iowa couldn't match stride.
"Give credit to them," said Vandenberg, who completed 19 of 26 for 181 yards and two TDs, "they guarded the heck out of us. When we watch this film, I don't think we're going to see guys running wide open."
Martin-Manley's personal foul was the other end of a personal foul called on a Michigan player on the Iowa sideline. Otherwise, it was a null day for Iowa wide receivers. Through three quarters, four players logged yards for the Hawkeyes -- Weisman, Fiedorowicz, Krieger-Coble and Vandenberg.
Martin-Manley's 5-yard catch on fourth-and-6 with 8:11 left was the first touch for a wide receiver. Senior wide receiver Keenan Davis was shutout for the first time in 25 games. Martin-Manley ended up with two catches for 7 yards and that was it for Iowa wideouts.
"It's hard to win when something like that happens," said Feidorowicz, who had a career day with eight catches for 99 yards. "I can't really explain that."
Vandenberg battled through his postgame interviews with a voice that was shot. You can get even odds on which makes it another week, his throat or the Hawkeyes.