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M&GB Pick’em: Iowa staff predictions

November 16th, 2012 by Justin Potts


Last week, Katie captured her second straight win with her 30-24 prediction. The rest of us predicted a much lower scoring game. This week, Michigan closes out its home schedule with the Iowa Hawkeyes. As has been the case the last two weeks, Denard’s status is unknown, but Iowa features one of the worst offenses in the country and Michigan should win regardless of who plays quarterback. Let’s take a look at our picks.

M&GB PREDICTION SUMMARY

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Justin: Michigan 35 – Iowa 17

Chris: Michigan 31 - Iowa 13

Josh: Michigan 27 – Iowa 13

Sam: Michigan 31 – Iowa 3

Katie: Michigan 38 – Iowa 13

Matt: Michigan 41 – Iowa 13

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Average: Michigan 34 – Iowa 12

Justin (1): There’s no doubt Michigan will win this one. What I’m more interested in seeing is Denard’s send-off. Whether or not he goes on to an NFL career he will go down as one of the greats to ever don the maize and blue. His injury is unfortunate in that he has missed two and a half games worth of stats that would have continued his assault on the record books. But Denard will always tell you he’s not concerned with stats. Michigan may never see a player like him again and he epitomizes the Michigan Man in every sense of the phrase. Will he start? Will he just see a few snaps? Nobody outside of the Fort knows. But what is certain is that he, and the other 22 seniors deserve a salute that only the fans of college football’s all-time winningest program can give.

Michigan 35 – Iowa 17

Chris (2): Saturday’s matchup against Iowa looks like it could be a nice tune-up for the Big Game on Thanksgiving weekend against Ohio State. The Hawkeyes have muddled through this season with a record so far of 4-6 (2-4 Big Ten). They need to win their last two games just to become bowl eligible.

On offense, the Hawkeyes lack any kind of firepower in both the rushing and passing attack.  They are near the bottom of the NCAA statistical rankings in almost every offensive category. Senior QB James Vandenberg has had a pedestrian year and the leading rusher, Sophomore Mark Weisman, wasn’t even listed on the depth chart to begin the season. His status for Saturday in Ann Arbor is unknown as he is dealing with a leg injury and has missed the last two games. Given the way the Michigan defense has played this season and the fact that Iowa hasn’t been able to put much together when they have the ball, I don’t see many points being scored on the Iowa side.

If this Iowa team has any sort of strength to their team, it’s their defense. Coming into this game, they are ranked 29th in the nation, giving up 22 points per game. These numbers sort of surprise me because I would think that the 29th best scoring defense would be giving up less than 3 touchdowns per game. Any way you look at it, the defense still has a lot of holes that can be exploited by a Michigan offense which has been very productive with Devin Gardner under center. Even if Denard Robinson plays on Saturday, and the offense doesn’t throw the ball as often, the offense should be able to move the ball and score points.

Regardless of who plays, Michigan will win (photo by the Detroit News)

I’m not expecting this game to be as close as last week. I think Northwestern had more talent and better athletes than this Iowa team. One good thing that came from last week’s overtime win is that it likely got the players’ attention and showed them that if they keep fighting until the very end, they can win even if it means making a large comeback. Saturday presents the opportunity to clean things up before the finale in Columbus. As long as the team isn’t looking ahead to that game, I see them winning by a comfortable margin. Michigan wins.

Michigan 31 – Iowa 13

Josh (2): Iowa has one of the worst offenses in college football. Michigan has one of the best defenses. On paper this one should be in the books. They say the game is not played on paper, but I think it’s safe to say Michigan’s seniors will exact revenge on another team they have never beaten.

Iowa started the season strong at 4-2, with their fourth win coming in double OT vs. MSU. Since then, however, they have lost four straight; the last two coming against Indiana and Purdue. With an inept offense and a line that looks nothing like a typical Kirk Ferentz line, Michigan’s defense should have a field day. The Wolverines gave up over 400 yards to Northwestern last week but was only giving up around 250 in their previous seven. Look for Michigan to keep Iowa to under 200 total yards and possibly pitch a shut out.

There is no word on whether Denard will be available, though I suspect he will sit out again to rest up and fully heal for the battle in Columbus the following week. Even if Denard does not play I’d be surprised if he did not at least take the field for one play. It is senior day and Denard Robinson has been one of the all-time greats to ever play in the Big House. He will leave a lasting legacy behind and the impact he has made on this program will be felt for some time. Decades from now his name will still be all over Michigan’s record books. I’m getting a bit misty-eyed thinking about what he’s meant to this team since he arrived in 2009. Moving on..

Devin Gardner has proved he is more than capable of leading this team and while he may not be quite as electric with his feet as Denard, he more than makes up for it with his passing and decision making.

Expect more under-center action and look for Borges to get Fitz and Thomas Rawls in a groove, in preparation for the Buckeyes.This will be a great tune-up game for Michigan but don’t think they will be looking past Iowa. Hoke will have these kids ready to roll. Michigan will keep its unbeaten streak at home alive (under Brady Hoke) and continue to do its part in the race for the Big Ten title game.

Michigan 27 – Iowa 13

Matt (2): What a win against Northwestern last weekend! I said that they scared me, and that game may have knocked a couple years off of my life. That catch by Roundtree… Oh my gosh! And Devin Gardner. I love that kid.

Damon Bullock was held to just 2.6 ypc in the last two games

This week, is Michigan’s last game at the Big House until next season. So hopefully it will be a good one. Michigan will be taking on the Iowa Hawkeyes. Although the Big House visitors locker room isn’t painted pink like Iowa’s, I still think Michigan is going to have quite the advantage this week. Iowa had a lot of hype going into the season. But after their week 1 win against Northern Illinois, they took a loss to Iowa State, and then alternated wins and losses sort of like playing a drum before losing four straight. Michigan is going to look to make it five.

Let’s not forget, next week the Wolverines play Ohio State, in Columbus. This is kind of the warm up game you could say. This is the game Michigan needs to make sure they have everything ready to go, so they can rattle the home town crowd of Columbus and defeat Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes.

I’m getting ahead of myself huh?

Iowa’s senior QB, James Vandenberg, just like his team, started the year with quite a bit of hype. That hype has since dissipated. Vandenberg has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards, but has thrown only five touchdowns, and six interceptions. Michigan’s defense is going to look to take advantage of these shaky stats. Iowa’s running game hasn’t been that stellar either. Their whole team has really had an off season. I see Michigan taking advantage of that at full force, forcing turnovers, pressuring Vandenberg, and completely dominating Iowa’s offense.

Their defense hasn’t been too strong either. But there is still no word if Denard or Devin is going to start at quarterback. Another advantage to Michigan I’d say, because Iowa isn’t sure how to prepare. Devin Gardner hasn’t been the running quarterback that Denard has been, but Gardner is still a threat on the ground, and obviously, by air.

Either way, I see Michigan shredding Iowa’s secondary, and punching in a couple of touchdowns on the ground as well. I’d really like to see Fitzgerald Toussaint have a good outing in this one, because he just hasn’t had a rushing season as we all had hoped.

Like I said, I see Michigan running away with this one…big.

Michigan 41 – Iowa 13

Sam (1): For one final time, Michigan’s 23 seniors will run out of the Big House tunnel and onto the field this Saturday as members of the football program. Among them include star offensive players, walk-ons-turned-starters, backups, career special teams’ players, and others who have never sniffed the field during a game. Many will be remembered for years to come; others will come back next year unrecognized and have to pay for a parking spot. All of them, however, are part of the Michigan football team, the 133rd Michigan team in school history, and all of them will be honored for their role on this team over the past four or five seasons.

For one more game, they will play in front of their fans in their city, and they will go out on a high note. If there was ever a game to call before it happened, this is it, as Michigan’s Senior Day opponent, Iowa, is reeling out of control, having lost four straight Big Ten games to middling to bad teams.

Iowa OC Greg Davis is sorely missing Vince Young and Colt McCoy

The Hawkeyes have no running game to speak of, score barely more than 20 points per game, and have seemed to give up hope. Included in the six teams to hand Iowa losses this season are lowly Purdue, Indiana, Central Michigan, and Iowa State. Their last win, a double overtime, barn-burning 19-16 victory over Michigan State, was basically handed to them on a platter. Iowa’s second-best win is over Minnesota. The point is, this team is very, very bad.

Michigan will likely be led again by quarterback Devin Gardner, who has been a revelation in his two starts, wins over Minnesota and Northwestern. The most famous of the seniors, Denard Robinson, continues to suffer from a nerve injury in his throwing arm. Robinson will probably get on the field once to please the fans and to give him one final memory at Michigan Stadium, but coach Brady Hoke is certain to do everything he can to get him healthy for Ohio State next weekend.

If Iowa is to have any chance this weekend, quarterback James Vandenberg will need to step up in a big way and get his 500-yard receivers, Keenan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley, involved early and often down the field. Unfortunately for Kirk Ferentz and company, Michigan’s pass defense continues to impress and has given up the fewest passing yards per game in the country. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison’s run defense has been a little bit inconsistent, but when it counts, the Wolverines always seem to come up with the big stop, and Iowa’s run offense has been an absolute disaster throughout the season after an offseason full of injuries and suspensions that led to a former walk-on linebacker taking over the starting running back spot.

So as the old exits and the new continues to usher itself in, Michigan fans will have one last time to see Denard Robinson, Roy Roundtree, Vincent Smith, and many others take to their home field. It’s always a bittersweet feeling to see favorite players exhaust their eligibility, but it should be a happy ending come Saturday for those 17 players who have played through so much. There are more games to be played this year, but Michigan can’t let themselves look ahead to next week. Even if they do, though, they’d probably still win big. Vincent Smith will score his final career touchdown as Michigan rolls.

Michigan 31 – Iowa 3

Katie (2): Iowa’s schedule to date lacks any convincing factor that could as much as hint that they could come into the Big House and walk away with a win.  Of course, there will always be upsets, but Michigan knows how important this win is if they are to have any chance at the Big Ten Championship, and so I doubt that they will put on the cruise control until the regular season is over.  Standing now at an unimpressive 4-6 (2-4) the Hawkeyes have had a rough four weeks, losing to Penn State, Indiana, Northwestern and Purdue (the other two losses to Central Michigan, and Iowa State).  That, along with a quarterback who has struggled late in games, and the loss of both a fullback and a running back will not help Iowa to put up the points it will need to beat Michigan, nor will the absence of two offensive linemen.

The highest score they’ve amassed so far is 31, but even doing so twice doesn’t matter much since they were scored against Minnesota and Central Michigan.  It also doesn’t bode well that the only offense as potent as Michigan’s, the Nittany Lions, put up almost 40 points on the Hawkeyes.  And I would credit the incentive to beat the Wolverines to have a better chance to make it into a bowl as a factor if the last game for Iowa wasn’t against an even higher ranked Nebraska team.

This should be pretty much set in stone by the third quarter.

Michigan 38 – Iowa 13