Michigan Football (7-3, 5-1) will host Iowa (4-6, 2-4) on Saturday afternoon at the Big House. Kick off is scheduled for 12:01pm (EST) and the game will be televised on ESPN.
The Hawkeyes have lost their last 4 games and have had a turbulent season that includes 6 games that were decided by 3 points or less (Iowa is 2-4 in those games). They don’t turn the ball over and they will try to run it right down Michigan’s throat. “Iowa is a power running team,” Craig Roh explained on Monday. “You know what they’re going to do, and they’re going to try to impose their will on you, and with Iowa it’s more about being in your gap and being gap sound than throw off and make plays when you need to make plays.”
Iowa’s linebacking duo of Anthony Hitchens and James Morris have combined for 210 tackles which ties them for first in the country. On offense, senior QB James Vandenberg has had a puzzling season with more interceptions (6) than TD passes (5). Considering that, it’s not a surprise that the Hawkeyes rank 106th nationally in total offense.
Iowa has won the last 3 games against Michigan, which is their longest winning streak in the series.
The Wolverines are fresh off an incredible comeback victory over Northwestern that kept their Legends Division title hopes alive. Devin Gardner has piloted Michigan to wins in each of the last two games and was just named the Big Ten’s Offensive Player of the Week. In place of the injured Denard Robinson, he has completed 59.6% of his passes for 520 yards with 4 TDs and 2 interceptions. Gardner has also rushed for 68 yards and 3 scores. In addition to those impressive stats, he has revived Roy Roundtree’s receiving exploits. In Gardner’s two starts Roundtree has corralled 7 passes for 203 yards.
There is no update on Robinson’s status from the Michigan camp. Brady Hoke continues to say that he is day-to-day without any further explanation. I’m expecting to see Gardner get another start at QB this week.
Michigan’s defense will match up well against the Iowa offense. On paper it is a severe mismatch with Michigan ranking 11th nationally and 2nd in the Big Ten in total defense. As mentioned above, Iowa ranks 106th in total offense. Addtionally, Michigan Football leads the nation in pass defense and has not allowed a team to eclipse 200 passing yards in any game this season. Sophomore linebacker Jake Ryan leads the Wolverines in total tackles (69), solo stops (44) and TFLs (12.0). He is the driving force behind a young and talented Michigan defense.
This is senior day for the Wolverines. Senior defensive end Craig Roh was asked about playing his last game at Michigan Stadium on Monday. “It’s been something really special,” he said about playing at Michigan. “I think a lot of times when you’re in the thick of it, you can’t appreciate it as much, but I think my last few games here I can reminisce a little bit more and stop for a second and think, ‘I’ve been really blessed.’”
Devin Gardner has a special message for Michigan fans (see the video at the bottom of the article).
Prediction: So far this season I am 8-2 predicting the outcome of Michigan Football games. I think the Wolverines match up very well against the Hawkeyes and they will snap Iowa’s 3 game winning streak in the series. Michigan rolls 31-13
You can follow me on Twitter @isportsRob