Iowa Football: Michigan is just us with a better brand

IOWA CITY, IOWA- NOVEMBER 12: Kicker Keith Duncan
IOWA CITY, IOWA- NOVEMBER 12: Kicker Keith Duncan /

The Iowa football team takes on a team, the Michigan Wolverines, with a different uniform, but a surprisingly similar recent history.

For whatever reason, Michigan and the Iowa football team are not thought of as equals. Michigan, after all, has won more games than any other college football team in history.

The University of Michigan recognizes 11 national championships in football. While the NCAA only acknowledges nine of these (they do conflict with Michigan in 1932 or 1947), this still puts them at a tie for the sixth most national championships of any college team. Please note that the NCAA did not officially name national champions, prior to the BCS era.

Per Iowa’s 2019 media guide, the Iowa football program acknowledges four national championships – 1921, 1956, 1958, 1960. No math is required to identify that by any measurement, Michigan has won far more national championships than Iowa.

Historically speaking, Michigan is a far more successful program and there is nothing that I or any Iowa football fan can say to take that away from them. Recently, however, Michigan isn’t the program that fans make think they are.

Michigan has won 170 games since Kirk Ferentz was named as the head coach of Iowa.

Iowa has won 156 games under Kirk Ferentz. This means that Michigan has averaged a half of a win more per year than Kirk Ferentz’s Hawkeyes.

The Wolverines, however, have been a different team since Lloyd Carr left Michigan after the 2007 season. The Wolverines have not won a Big Ten Title since 2004 when they split it with the Hawkeyes.

The Wolverines haven’t even won their division – the Legends or the East – since the Big Ten split into divisions. Iowa, of course, won the West in 2015.

Since Carr left, Michigan has won 87 games. Iowa has won 95 during that same time period.

Michigan went through some head coach turnover, but Jim Harbaugh was thought to be the head coach that would bring Michigan back. During his tenure and including this season, his Wolverines have won 41 games. Iowa has also won 41 games in that time period.

The equality of the two teams goes beyond the number of wins each have accumulated over a period of time. Michigan and Iowa recruit the same players.

Karan Higdon, last year’s RB for Michigan, was originally an Iowa commit. Jake Rudock, two year starting quarterback at Iowa, transfer to and started at Michigan for his final year of eligibility.

Most recently, Oliver Martin, a Michigan commit, transferred to Iowa. While these are three of the most notable examples, the recruitment battles and similarities between Michigan and Iowa stretch far beyond these alone.

At one point in time, Michigan was equal to the heavy hitters of the Big Ten like Ohio State and Wisconsin. Michigan did not rebuild, they reloaded.

However, based on their recruitment and their recent success, this time is in a distant past. Just like Iowa, when Michigan loses three of their best players on the defensive front seven, they need time to rebuild.

Next. Three Wolverines to know Saturday. dark

If Michigan expects to out-talent Iowa on Saturday, the Hawkeyes will return to Iowa City with a victory. In 2019, Michigan is just Iowa-level talent with an Ohio State-level brand.