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November 16, 2012On a warm, sunny September day in 2008, this year's fifth-year seniors experienced their first Big Ten win as members of the Michigan football team.
Although none of them played in that game, it was still memorable, coming back from a 19-0 deficit to beat Wisconsin, 27-25, in the 500th game in Big House history.
Five years later, these seniors have beaten nine conference teams at least once: (in order of defeat) Wisconsin, Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Northwestern, Nebraska, Ohio State and Michigan State.
They will never get a chance to avenge their 0-3 record to Penn State. But on Saturday, they will get a chance to topple another team that has recently edged the Wolverines.
Michigan has not beaten Iowa since 2006 (an 0-3 record since, with losses in 2009, 2010 and 2011). In the last 10 seasons (2002-11), Iowa has a 5-3 edge over the Wolverines. No one currently involved with the program has ever experienced a win over the Hawkeyes.
"I myself have not beaten Iowa yet. I know for selfish reasons that will be a huge motivation for me," senior Craig Roh said. "I never want to go not beating a team in my career. That is something we control, that this team controls. It's real exciting to have another opportunity to go out there and play the way we can play."
"We can't look past these guys," added fifth-year senior center Elliott Mealer. "It's a big one on our list, to beat these guys and come out as prepared as we would in any other game."
Although some fans may be peaking past the Hawkeyes, who are 4-6 and have dropped four straight games, to the big one at the end of the regular season, the players are certainly not.
A win over Iowa will mean too much.
"The great thing about this team is we really don't look much further ahead than our next opponent," Roh said. "We're so engrossed in film study, practice, and the game plan that I really don't think a lot of guys skip one team and start thinking about the other. It's the same this week for Iowa."
The Michigan offense has great respect for the Hawkeyes' defense, especially after last season's game, in which the Wolverines were held to 127 rushing yards and 16 points in a 24-16 loss.
"You might not see it, as just fans, but they're really good at their technique and doing what they're told," Mealer said. "Iowa really stands out when you're watching them. They have a different defense.
"They keep their linebackers clean to allow them to make plays. That's a challenge to us as an offensive line, being able to get up on those guys and get them blocked. Their defensive line is really good at keeping linemen off their backers."