I hate Iowa. I've always hated Iowa. In 2002 I was on the field at Michigan Stadium as a sports reported when the Hawkeyes waltzed into Ann Arbor and beat Michigan 34-9. It was one of the most somber moods I've ever experienced at a Michigan game.
The Rich Rod and Hoke Era wasn't kind to that sensibility either. It's been more than a decade since Michigan beat the Hawkeyes in Iowa City and the losses there have all been painful, not the least of which being the most recent one, 14-13 on Saturday night.
For the life of me, I couldn't tell you what offense Michigan was running in that game. They didn't even start running the ball effectively until the fourth quarter and they were still being "cute" with it, running toss plays and trying to do everything to get yards except run between the tackles. It was a night filled with failed flea flickers, overthrown passes, receivers that couldn't catch a cold, and offensive line that truly looked offensive a number of times.
It wasn't all on the players though, the coaches called some ridiculousness all night. This was anything but the "manball" that we have all been looking for and have seen several times this season against lesser opponents. This was unfocused, undisciplined chaos and it was by far Michigan's worst effort of the year. Under no circumstances did they deserve to win that game, regardless of the officials calling bogus facemasks and ejecting anyone for targeting. From top to bottom, coaches to players, it was a horrible effort. No question about that.
All of that being said, if you're a Michigan fan ready to take a cold plunge deep into the recesses of a Great Lake over this, you need to calm the hell down. As bad as this loss was, and it was BAD, it doesn't change anything except a shot at being undefeated. That's gone now, but how realistic was that in the first place? After all, each of Alabama's last three national championships were won by one-loss teams and the Big Ten Championship game has never been won by an undefeated squad. Yes Michigan and Ohio State were undefeated in conference play when they won it in 2013 and 2014, but the Spartans lost to Notre Dame and the Buckeyes lost to Virginia Tech at home in those years. Going undefeated in FBS play is HARD TO DO. If Alabama does it this year it will be only the second time they have done it in the Nick Saban era and first time since 2009.
So Michigan is 9-1 now, and as much as you have fans essentially proclaiming the season over now, that is simply not the case. Games against Indiana at home and Ohio State on the road are still to be played and losing this game to the idiot Hawkeyes doesn't mean that they won't win either of those games. I mean you can choose to be negative and believe that to be the case, but that doesn't make you right about it.
The plain truth is that if Michigan wins out, they will win the Big Ten East and go to Indy, the same as Michigan State did last season when they lost a late game in the year at night to Nebraska on the road before beating OSU and Penn State to end the regular season en route to winning its second Big Ten title in three years. If they could absorb a late loss in the conference on the road at night, surely Michigan can.
Now we will get to see if they are truly capable of it. For a team that really hadn't been tested by most anyone on their schedule save for Wisconsin, the Iowa game serves as a true wake-up call to the Wolverines now. They did not come with their best effort on the road against a team hungry for a win to salvage their season and they paid the price for it. Now they will face real adversity this season in the wake of an embarrassing performance on national television in primetime and we will see if they use that as motivation to rise to the challenge and play their best football for the rest of the season. If they do that, they will be playing for the Big Ten championship and a playoff spot. If they don't, then just like the Iowa game, they will have no one to blame for it but themselves. They still hold their destiny and their goals in their hands without a need of help from anyone else. Instead of writing them off in Columbus already because of this loss, maybe we should watch and see if they respond? Perhaps not jump to conclusions about how good this team really is?
Not that any of what I just said will stop people from making those assumptions about Michigan football this year. I just certainly won't be one of them, no matter how much Iowa infuriates me on a constant basis.