Iowa stuns unbeaten No. 3 Michigan with final-play field goal

Chris Cuellar

IOWA CITY, Ia. — The nation was watching for the Wolverines.

It got another classic upset in Iowa City instead.

Iowa freshman Keith Duncan kicked in a 33-yard field goal as time expired to give the Hawkeyes a stunning 14-13 upset of the third-ranked team in the country, ruining College Football Playoff hopes on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa's Akrum Wadley celebrates his touchdown during the Hawkeyes' game against Michigan at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016.

The win was Iowa’s first over a ranked opponent since beating Michigan at home in 2011, and ABC was on-hand to capture the celebration and fans rushing the field.

Michigan entered the game with the No. 1 defense and No. 3 offense in FBS, but was held to 201 yards and could not get off the field in the final minute as Iowa drove towards the south end zone. The Hawkeyes began the final drive at Michigan’s 36-yard line after a Desmond King punt return was aided by a facemask penalty.

Duncan’s kick was snapped with three seconds remaining from the center of the field.

Running back Akrum Wadley led the final drive down the field as he did most of the game, setting up the kick with rushing and receiving efforts. He posted a game-high 23 carries for 115 yards on the ground and five receptions for 52 yards.

Earlier in the fourth quarter, Iowa safety Brandon Snyder was flagged for a controversial and rare roughing the center penalty on a punt attempt, granting the Wolverines a pivotal first down. A few snaps later and kicker Kenny Allen returned a 13-11 lead to Michigan on a 51-yard field goal.

With four regular starters out due to injury – offensive tackle Cole Croston, tight end George Kittle, defensive tackle Nathan Bazata and cornerback Greg Mabin – Iowa relied heavily on usual substitutes from the opening snap. True freshman cornerback Manny Rugamba repaid that confidence with an outstanding performance, breaking up an early potential touchdown pass and intercepting Michigan quarterback Wilton Speight with 3:43 remaining.

The energy and excitement of a tight game against a three-touchdown favorite kept the Kinnick Stadium crowd involved and proved important right out of halftime. Michigan fumbled the opening kickoff of the third quarter and Iowa claimed the first second-half lead any team has had over Michigan of the season with a Keith Duncan 25-yard field goal.

The 11-10 margin held until the fourth quarter as an animated defense forced back-to-back three-and-outs.

Slowing down the nation’s third-ranked scoring offense was key for Iowa in keeping the first half close.

The sides exchanged punts on their opening series and the only points of the first quarter came on Michigan’s 26-yard field goal.

Iowa punter Ron Coluzzi became a sideshow in the proceedings, drawing three penalty flags on three punt attempts and generating national buzz in the process. The Central Michigan graduate transfer pulled down a potential punt midway through the first quarter and tried to run away from Wolverine defenders, but ended up somersaulting for a loss and was hit by linebacker Devin Bush. A targeting penalty was called on Bush and he was subsequently ejected.

Coluzzi then drew back-to-back running into the kicker flags on the next series, resulting in an Iowa first down.

Michigan scored off both the failed Iowa drives, with the aforementioned Allen field goal and a seven-yard run from 230-pound running back Ty Isaac. The 10-0 advantage appeared to be enough to silence the Kinnick crowd on a chilly November night and set the routine rout off, but the Hawkeyes bounced back.

An outstanding punt from Coluzzi pinned Michigan at its own one yard line, where Iowa defensive tackle Jaleel Johnson jumped a rush attempt and forced a safety.

Iowa’s offense climbed into the same end zone five minutes later.

C.J. Beathard found Akrum Wadley on a three-yard screen pass on fourth down, eschewing a field goal attempt that could have closed the gap. The 10-8 margin held when a two-point conversion pass went through the hands of sophomore receiver Adrian Falconer.

Iowa has beaten Michigan in five of its last six meetings, and last four at Kinnick.