Iowa has been the surprise of the young Big Ten season. Coach Kirk Frentz has done a noble job in turning around the Hawkeyes, and at 4-2, his team could reach its first bowl game since the 1998 Sun Bowl.
But this dramatic turnaround is deceiving, as Iowa”s two Big Ten wins have come against Penn State and Indiana 10th and 11th in the conference, respectively.
With an upset victory over Michigan, which has had trouble in recent years after the bye week, the Hawkeyes could jump into the national spotlight.
Michigan rushing defense vs. Iowa rushing offense: Iowa”s Ladell Betts is a workhorse back who is averaging over 80 yards per game and has four touchdowns this season. Last week against Indiana, he ran over the Hoosiers for more than 170 yards and a score.
But the Michigan rush defense is at least five times as good as Indiana”s and hasn”t allowed a 100-yard rusher all season. Don”t expect that to change for Larry Foote and company.
Michigan passing defense vs. Iowa passing offense: Iowa quarterback Kyle McCann leads the Big Ten in passing efficiency with a 146.7 rating, and until he threw four interceptions in a loss at Michigan State, he was second in the nation behind Florida”s Rex Grossman. He found his form again last week by completing 12-of-16 passes and throwing for three touchdowns.
Big-play wideout Kahlil Hill also had a great day against the Hoosiers with three catches for 93 yards and two scores.
Michigan has limited the passing attacks of Illinois and Purdue this season, but both of those were home games.
Road games in the Big Ten are a different kind of animal and the Wolverines may need some time to adjust.
Michigan rushing offense vs. Iowa rushing defense: Defense has been the pride of Iowa this season as it leads the conference in total defense, allowing fewer than 290 yards per game.
But 130 yards of that comes on the ground and the Hawkeyes allowed Antwaan Randle El and Levron Williams to run all over them last week.
With a healthy Chris Perry and offensive line, the Wolverines” rushing offense should be too strong for Iowa.
Michigan passing offense vs. Iowa passing defense: Iowa is first in the Big Ten in pass defense and is allowing just 160 yards through the air. But it has yet to face a receiver as strong as Marquise Walker.
Walker is having one of the best seasons ever for a Michigan wide receiver, and he has been a security blanket for quarterback John Navarre.
This is too close to call and could be decided by each team”s supporting class.
In the end, Michigan will again have too many weapons for its opponent. With another solid game, the Wolverines should retain their No. 7 spot in the BCS and keep their hopes up for a Rose Bowl berth.
Michigan 28, Iowa 17