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November 23, 2013
High winds slow down both offenses
Michigan battled Iowa in a 24-21 loss in Iowa City Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, both offenses were battling swirling winds that made it difficult to move the ball.
The Hawkeyes won the toss and deferred to the second half, which gave Michigan coach Brady Hoke the option of choosing when his team would have its back against the wind.
Hoke and the Wolverines elected to drive into the wind to start the game, giving them an advantage in the second and fourth quarters.
In the opening 15 minutes of the game, the Wolverines gained just 19 total yards on offense, but were helped by a pick-six from junior defensive end Brennen Beyer that gave them an early lead.
As the offense struggled to find footing, the special teams also had trouble with the wind, which blew as fast as 20 miles per hour at times during the game.
Junior punter Matt Wile had three attempts in the opening quarter, with two punts dying quickly in the stiff wind, going for just 19 and 22 yards. He averaged 26.7 yards per kick in the first quarter.
"We wanted the wind in the fourth quarter," Hoke said. "A couple punts you could see when it got up high, when the ball really got up there. I don't know how much it really affected the guys throwing the ball. Spiral cuts through it really well. Kickoffs, punts, if it's not a good spiral, so it has an effect."
But the numbers seem to show the wind certainly made it difficult for the offenses.
After racking up 117 yards and a touchdown in the opening quarter, the Hawkeyes stalled in the second quarter, when they were trying to drive into the win.
Iowa gained just 53 total yards in the second quarter (27 on the ground and 26 through the air), earning just two first downs.
The Hawkeyes' first three drives of the quarter ended with an interception and two poor punts, one travelling 36 yards and the other going just 27. The Wolverines' worst starting field position during that stretch was their own 41-yards line.
Meanwhile, the Wolverines put together their best quarter of the game, scoring its two offensive touchdowns of the game and amassing 94 yards of offense, including 51 yards through the air. In the other three quarters, Michigan gained 64 combined yards and 47 passing yards.
"I didn't really feel the effects of the wind in that game," Gardner said.
But once again, the Wolverines could not get anything going into the wind in the third quarter.
Michigan ran 13 offensive plays in the third quarter, which netted a total of 10 yards (0.8 yards per play). The Wolverines had three three-and-out-drives and just one first down in the entire quarter.
On the other side, the Hawkeyes racked up 123 yards, including a 55-yard strike from quarterback Jake Rudock to receiver Tevaun Smith for a touchdown.
Iowa also drove to the Michigan 33-yard line before the start of the fourth quarter, setting up a short field for its offense to work into the wind (Iowa finished the drive in the fourth with a touchdown).
In the first three quarters, the two offenses combined to gain 82 yards on 30 plays into the wind (2.7 yards per play). They had just four combined first downs (one of which came on a penalty) and zero third-down conversions.
But in the fourth quarter, the Hawkeyes finally found a way to break through while playing into the wind.
Iowa's game-winning drive took place in the fourth quarter, going 50 yards in nine plays to kick the game-winning 34-yard field goal with just over six minutes to play.
The Hawkeyes ran 21 plays in the final quarter, amassing 114 yards (5.4 yards per play) and keeping drives alive with six first downs, including two third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion.