The Big Ten title could be decided this week. The winner of the Michigan-Iowa game will be a favorite to represent the conference in Pasadena. A loss for either team will be demoralizing and the winner will be catapulted into the ranks of the nation’s elite. The teams are evenly matched, and the game will come down to the wire. With both teams possessing potent passing attacks and ineffective passing defenses, there will be plenty of points scored.

Michigan rushing offense vs. Iowa rushing defense: Chris Perry is not 100 percent and B.J. Askew was ineffective against Purdue. That isn’t good news for Michigan as it is facing an Iowa defense that allows just 68 yards per game on the ground and just 2.2 yards per rush.

If Michigan has any chance at moving the ball on the ground, it will need the offensive line to play its best game of the season thus far. Which isn’t to say that the offensive hasn’t played well, but this is the most formidable line it has faced or likely will face this season.

Edge: Iowa

Michigan passing offense vs. Iowa passing defense: For as good as Iowa’s rushing defense is, its passing defense is bad. Not just bad – it is bad to the XXXtreme (That’s right – three X’s). The Hawkeyes’ are ranked second to last in the nation, just above the WAC’s worst in Idaho and just below every other team in Division I-A.

Since Michigan has potent weapons in Braylon Edwards and company and a constantly improving quarterback in John Navarre, you can bet that the Wolverines are licking their chops for Saturday’s game.

Edge: Michigan

Iowa rushing offense vs. Michigan rushing defense: While not quite as good as Iowa’s rushing defense, Michigan has a strong unit of its own. The Hawkeyes have quite the little running game with the minute Fred Russell handling the duties, but the Wolverines have the best defensive line that Iowa has seen this season and it will show on Saturday.

The Wolverines expect Norman Heuer to rejoin the team, providing the line with even more depth. In short, Iowa is talented, but so is Michigan’s line.

Edge: Michigan

Iowa passing offense vs. Michigan passing defense: Michigan struggles against mobile quarterbacks, especially good mobile quarterbacks. Banks is a mobile quarterback. He’s a good mobile quarterback – one of the most efficient in the nation. Got that? Michigan will need to contain the explosive Banks in order to avoid another Donovan McNabb-like disaster in Michigan Stadium.

Banks will get the better of Michigan here – the Wolverines will just have to limit how badly Banks hurts them.

Edge: Iowa

Special teams: Iowa’s Nate Kaeding has made 15-of-15 field goal attempts this season. Michigan, as a team, has attempted 14 field goals, just one fewer than Kaeding. So really on paper, this matchup is even.

Both teams have potential game-breaking punt- and kick-returning threats. But the Hawkeyes get the edge in this matchup with one more field goal attempt.

Edge: Iowa

Intangibles: The Big House has been good to Michigan this season. Not just good -very good. The Wolverines have found a way to win every close game at home this season and there is no reason to doubt them now.

Edge: Michigan

There is little doubt the game will be close and high scoring, but Michigan will prevail with its defense doing just enough to win.

Michigan 35, Iowa 34

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