Hart, Michigan overcome valiant IowaOct 21, 2006 - 11:19 PM ANN ARBOR, Michigan (Ticker) -- Iowa played with a lot of heart. But the Hawkeyes could not stop Mike Hart.
Hart ran for 99 of his 126 yards and two touchdowns in the second half as second-ranked Michigan overcame the Hawkeyes, 20-6, in a hard-fought Big Ten Conference clash.
Chad Henne completed 23-of-33 passes for 203 yards and an interception for Michigan (8-0, 5-0 Big Ten), which appears on the verge of a showdown with top-ranked Ohio State for a spot in the Bowl Championship Series national title game. The Wolverines host lowly Northwestern and Ball State and visit Indiana before traveling to Columbus on November 18.
"You have to deal with it when everyone is talking about you being No. 1 or No. 2," Hart said. "Everyone is talking about Ohio State, Ohio State, Ohio State, but we know we have games before Ohio State. Obviously that's the big one, but we have games before then. That's when leadership comes in.
"We had to focus on Iowa this week. Next week we have to focus on Northwestern. I think it just comes down to the leaders keeping the team focused."
The game was tied, 3-3, before Steve Breaston returned a kickoff to the Iowa 35 with 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. Eight plays later, Hart scored on a nine-yard run to give the Wolverines the lead for good with 6:36 to go in the period.
A senior, Breaston also tied a career high with seven receptions, which went for 49 yards.
"(Breaston) is a team guy," Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said. "What he has done for this football team - the leadership that he provided - you can't put a value on him. He was simply outstanding. That play changed the field position, and we went in and scored a touchdown. The way that our defense was playing, that was certainly a big play."
The score was 13-6 with 6:55 to play when the reliable Hart lost a fumble near the Iowa 35. But the call was overturned after replays indicated his knee was down before he lost the ball.
"I knew I was down on that one for a fact," Hart said. "I knew they were over there trying to see where the spot of the ball was. I really knew it wasn't a fumble. I figured they were trying to see where the ball was and if it was a first down."
Six plays later, Hart scored a clinching 10-yard touchdown with 3:59 to go.
"More than anything else, we had patience in calling the running game," Carr said. "In the second half, we did hit some creases and establish the run. We were big in the second half."
The Wolverines improved to 16-1 when Hart rushes for at least 100 yards. The junior has rushed for 1,057 yards this season.
"He is a great leader for their football team," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "He is a great competitor, and that is an excellent football team. You are talking about a legitimate top-three, top-two team in the country, and we have a lot of respect for him."
As a team, the Wolverines were limited to 88 yards on 39 carries - Henne was sacked three times and finished with minus-31 yards on four rushes - but the nation's top-ranked rushing defense limited the Hawkeyes to 41 yards on 24 carries.
"I am proud of the effort of our football team," Ferentz said. "I thought both teams played extremely hard. It was extremely competitive out there. It was a great Big Ten football game. We came up short. You do not get any prizes for trying hard. But we will go back to work tomorrow. There is a lot of football left."
Drew Tate went 21-of-36 for 197 yards for the Hawkeyes (5-3, 2-3), who were stunned last week at Indiana, 31-28. Tate was sacked five times.
"They were pretty tough," Tate said. "They were without a doubt the best defense we've played all year. How physical they are, their size, their speed - we haven't seen anything like that. For us, I thought we did an unbelievable job against them. It probably could have been a lot worse."
Michigan held just a 3-0 lead when Henne was intercepted by linebacker Mike Humpal on a deflected pass at the Michigan 27, leading to a 34-yard field goal by Kyle Schlicher with 10:06 left in the third quarter.
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