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Posts Tagged ‘Iowa Hawkeyes’

Sam’s 3 thoughts: Iowa

Friday, February 7th, 2014


Michigan-Iowa header2

With a conference-best 9-1 record and a sweep of Nebraska now in the rear view mirror, Michigan enters perhaps its toughest stretch in Big Ten play, with the next four games coming at Iowa and Ohio State then versus Wisconsin and Michigan State at home. Iowa, thought to be a contender for the Big Ten crown at one point, has slipped of late in losing three of their past five, including one to Michigan, but the Hawkeyes have a potentially potent offensive attack with an incredibly deep bench. They are also very big and sport a cool 11-2 home record. Another sweep over a solid opponent would do wonders for Michigan’s championship aspirations, however, and a good game should be had. Here are a few keys for the Wolverines.

Keep White Cold: Junior 6’9″ forward Aaron White, Iowa’s second-leading scorer and leading rebounder, crushed Michigan in their first go-around with 17 points on 12 shots and nearly brought the Hawkeyes a huge upset. Since then, however, the lanky redhead has gone ice cold, averaging only 9.3 points over his last four games while missing 18 of his 30 shots and eight straight three-pointers. Michigan’s best shot tomorrow is to keep White as a focal point of the defense and hope his struggles continue. At one point in Ann Arbor, White scored 14 straight points, showing his capability to take a game over. The Wolverines can’t have that happen again despite not having any one player that is a good matchup for him.

Get Shots for Stauskas: I know, I know. Michigan doesn’t absolutely need Nik Stauskas to put up 15 or 20 points a night to win games, as evidenced by the blowout win over Nebraska in which the Canuck only took three shots, but it’s a hell of a lot easier when he does. Over his past two outings, Stauskas has totaled just 15 points on nine shots despite averaging more than 17 points a game on more than 10 shot attempts over the course of the season.

Tomorrow, look for Michigan to focus on getting Stauskas the ball and drawing up some plays for him to get some shots up. Confidence is never an issue with the sniper, and his eight assists against the Huskers prove his ability to thrive within John Beilein’s offense when the shot isn’t there, but at some point he needs to realize that he is a scorer. Tomorrow would be a good time for him to get back on track and bang home a few triples, especially considering the first victory over Iowa saw Stauskas score a career-high 26 points on 14 shots (5-of-9 3PT).

Morford: By all accounts, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford have done a masterful job of filling in for the injured Mitch McGary for the better part of the season, and Michigan has thrived while riding the hot hand down low. Recently, however, their tangible production has dropped. On the year, the veteran captain duo averages about 10 points and nine rebounds combined per night, and a little more while McGary has been on the bench, but the past two games have seen the “Morford” combination average a measly six points and seven rebounds. One of the two has also gone scoreless in each of the past two games while the Wolverine guards have gone to work. Tomorrow, the Maize and Blue will certainly call upon at least one of the big men to provide a big lift in the scoring and rebounding departments while also playing an integral role in slowing White and seven-footer Adam Woodbury.

Prediction: The Big Ten has been far from predictable this season, with presumed bottom-dweller Northwestern rising all the way up to fourth place in the conference while presumed competitors like Wisconsin, Ohio State, and Iowa have gone taken some head-scratching stumbles. Michigan has been one of the few consistently excellent teams, but tomorrow’s game in Iowa City will provide a huge challenge. Iowa is certainly hungry to get back in the thick of things and bolster its tournament resume while Michigan looks to let Stauskas shoot a little more. This has all the makings of a battle that will come down to the wire, but I like a resilient Wolverine team to pull it out 77-72.

Michigan hoops preview: Iowa

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014


Michigan vs Iowa banner
#21/25 Michigan (13-4, 5-0) vs #10/10 Iowa (15-3, 4-1) – Ann Arbor, Mich. – 7pm EST – BTN
Offense
77.3 Points/gm 86.8
(462-947) 48.8 Field Goal % 47.6(526-1,105)
(144-371) 38.8 3-pt FG % 38.2 (110-288)
(246-332) 74.1 Free Throw % 72.5 (400-552)
14.5 FT Made/gm 22.2
33.5 Reb/gm 44.6
15.6 Assists/gm 17.1
9.1 Turnovers/gm 11.8
Defense
63.5 Points/gm 66.6
(403-940) 42.9 Field Goal % 37.2 (416-1,117)
(98-297) 33.0 3-pt FG % 28.2 (118-418)
30.9 Opp. Reb/gm 34.9
5.8 Steals/gm 7.2
2.9 Blocks/gm 5.3
Individual Leaders
N. Stauskas (18.0), G. Robinson III (13.9) Points/gm R. Devyn Marble (16.3), Aaron White (14.0)
Mitch McGary (8.3), Jon Horford (5.2) Reb/gm Melsahn Basabe (6.8), Aaron White (6.4)

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Last Saturday, Michigan pulled off the toughest Big Ten win possible according to Kenpom, topping third-ranked Wisconsin in Madison 77-70. It was something the Wolverines hadn’t done since 1999 and something not many conference opponents have done period. The Kohl Center is traditionally one of the toughest venues for a visiting team to win.

Now, Michigan hopes to hold court at home tonight against 10th-ranked Iowa. Three of Michigan’s five conference wins thus far have come away from the Crisler Center, which is always an important piece of the Big Ten title puzzle, but holding serve at home is imperative. Iowa already won in Columbus; can the Hawkeyes do it again in Ann Arbor? Or will Michigan continue its hot streak and set up a huge showdown with Michigan State on Saturday? Let’s take a look.

The Starters
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Roy Devyn Marble 27.3 16.3 42.0 37.3 65.0 3.6 3.3 1.5 0.2 2.2
Aaron White 25.4 14.0 65.9 33.3 85.7 6.4 2.2 1.8 0.6 0.8
Melsahn Basabe 18.6 7.7 57.1 00.0 64.2 6.8 0.2 1.2 0.9 0.4
Mike Gesell 21.8 7.1 39.6 34.1 64.9 2.2 3.8 1.2 0.1 1.3
Adam Woodbury 15.9 5.4 49.3 00.0 74.2 4.0 1.0 1.1 0.3 0.4
The Others
Minutes Points FG% 3FG% FT% Reb Ast TO Blk Stl
Jarrod Uthoff 20.7 9.9 56.2 52.2 84.5 5.7 0.9 1.1 1.3 0.3
Zach McCabe 16.6 7.2 38.4 34.6 73.5 3.4 1.2 0.7 0.0 0.5
Josh Oglesby 16.7 7.2 50.0 60.0 50.0 1.7 0.8 0.7 0.2 0.2
Peter Jok 12.7 6.3 37.8 31.6 81.3 1.5 1.1 0.8 0.1 0.4
Gabriel Olaseni 15.6 6.2 45.6 00.0 70.2 5.1 0.5 0.8 1.4 0.2
Anthony Clemmens 15.6 3.6 54.3 46.2 61.8 1.6 2.4 1.1 0.2 0.5

The go-to guy for the Hawkeyes is senior Roy Devyn Marble (6’6″, 200), who averages 16.3 points, 3.6 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 2.2 assists per game. He lit up Xavier for 30 points in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, but did so on 23 shots. In fact, he also took 23 shots against Villanova (scoring 24 points) and took 24 shots en route to 27 points against Wisconsin. He averages nearly 13 shots a game. Only once has he scored 20 points efficiently – a 7-of-13, 22-point outing in the win over Ohio State – and he did so with no made three-pointers but eight free throws.

Junior Aaron White (6’9″, 220) is the only other Hawkeye averaging double figures, though McCaffery’s squad spreads the production out more than most teams. White averages 14 points and ranks second on the team with 6.4 rebounds per game. After notching double digits in just seven of 13 non-conference games, White has scored at least 12 points in all five Big Ten contests. Against Ohio State, he made 8-of-12 shots, including a three, and scored 19 points.

Senior forward Melsahn Basabe (6’7″, 220) leads the team with 6.8 rebounds per game and adds 7.7 points and about a block per game. Sophomore center Adam Woodbury (7’1″, 245) plays the fewest minutes of any starter (15.9) and averages just 5.4 points and four rebounds, but has a few inches on Michigan’s tallest big men.

Joining Devyn Marble in the backcourt is Mike Gesell (6’1″, 190). The sophomore averages 7.1 points and a team-high 3.8 assists per game with a 68-21 assist-to-turnover difference.

Coming off the bench, sophomore forward Jarrod Uthoff (6’9″, 208) averages more minutes (20.7) and points (9.9) than both Basabe and Woodbury. He’s also the team’s third-leading rebounder at 5.7 and has the second most blocks (23).

Senior forward Zach McCabe (6’7″, 235) and junior guard Josh Oglesby (6’5″, 208) are upperclassmen who both average 7.2 points per game. McCabe has seen his production drop off in conference play after scoring in double figures in eight of the first 11 games. He’s averaging just 3.4 points in the last seven and went a combined 0-for-15 against Iowa State and Ohio State. Oglesby missed the first 12 games of the season but had a big game against Minnesota on Sunday, pouring in 17 points on 6-of-9 shooting (5-of-7 from downtown). In fact, he has made 12-of-20 three-point attempts in his six games played so far.

The Schedule
Date Opponent Score
Nov. 8 UNC-Wilmington W 82-39
Nov. 10 Nebraska-Omaha W 83-75
Nov. 14 Maryland-Eastern Shore W 109-63
Nov. 17 Abilene Christian W 103-41
Nov. 22 Pennsylvania W 86-55
Nov. 28 Xavier* W 77-74 OT
Nov. 29 UTEP* W 89-53
Nov. 30 Villanova* L 83-88 OT
Dec. 3 Notre Dame# W 98-93
Dec. 7 Drake^ W 83-66
Dec. 9 Fairleigh Dickinson W 92-59
Dec. 13 at #17 Iowa State L 82-85
Dec. 22 Arkansas-Pine Bluff W 86-61
Dec. 31 Nebraska W 67-57
Jan. 5 at #4 Wisconsin L 71-75
Jan. 9 Northwestern W 93-67
Jan. 12 at #3 Ohio State W 84-74
Jan. 19 Minnesota W 94-73
*Battle 4 Atlantis, #Big Ten/ACC Challenge, ^Hy-Vee Big Four Classic

Iowa presents a tough challenge for Michigan with a deep rotation of 11 players each averaging at least 12.7 minutes per game. On Monday, John Beilein said gave the Hawkeyes some high praise considering the Wolverines have played No. 1 Arizona, at Duke, and at Iowa State so far this season.

“We haven’t played anyone like this,” Beilein said.

Iowa comes in at 15-3 overall and 4-1 in the Big Ten, but each of the three losses has been close – one in overtime and the other two by a combined seven points, both on the road. One of those road losses, a 75-71 defeat at Wisconsin, saw Head Coach Fran McCaffery get ejected giving the Badgers go-ahead free throws and the ball late in a close game.

Wisconsin ranks fifth nationally with a scoring average of 86.8 points per game, averaging 1.18 points per possession, and while the Hawkeyes shoot slightly worse than Michigan, they have taken 158 more shots and have made 68 more free throws than Michigan has attempted. That makes it sound like Michigan’s offense is well below Iowa’s, but in reality, Michigan’s adjusted offense ranking according to Kenpom is fifth – just one spot below Iowa’s.

Both Michigan and Iowa have been battle tested so far this season and tonight’s matchup is sure to be a knockdown, drag out fight. It will be tough for Michigan to win the return trip on Feb. 8, so it’s imperative that the Wolverines protect the home court.

The Series

Michigan holds a 90-58 all-time lead in the series and has won 10 of the last 12 meetings. At the Crisler Center, Michigan leads 50-22 and has won its last four. The teams met just once last season with the Wolverines winning 95-67 on Jan. 3.

Notes

• Saturday’s victory at Wisconsin was John Beilein’s first at the Kohl Center and the highest-ranked team Michigan has ever beaten on the road

• Nik Stauskas now has eight 20-point performances on the season. He also has a 24-7 assist-to-turnover ratio in Big Ten play

• In Big Ten play, Jordan Morgan and Jon Horford are averaging a combined 16 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocks, and shooting 77.3 percent from the field

Friend vs Foe: Iowa

Thursday, November 21st, 2013


For this week’s edition of Friend vs Foe we welcome RossWB from one of our favorite fellow Big Ten team sites, the Iowa SB Nation blog Black Heart Gold Pants. He answers questions about Iowa’s late-game struggles, Michigan’s chances of running the ball, Iowa’s passing game, and where the advantages lie. He also gives his prediction. You can follow Ross on Twitter at @RossWB and the site’s main feed at @BHGP.

1. Iowa had fourth quarter leads or ties in losses to NIU, Michigan State, and Ohio State, but they’ve been outscored 78-44 in the fourth quarter. What has gone wrong late in games this season?

I think the biggest late-game problem for Iowa has been their offense.  It’s been pretty weak in the third and fourth quarters this year, especially in Big Ten play (the Purdue game notwithstanding… and all stats from games against Purdue this year should probably carry a caveat).  Iowa has really struggled to sustain drives and (more importantly) score points at the end of games this season, which is a bit of a problem when you’re tied or chasing a lead.  So Iowa’s best bet is definitely to build a big early lead and then hang on; if it’s a close game in the fourth quarter, I think it’s safe to say that Iowa fans are going to be very nervous.

2. Michigan’s lack of a running game the past few weeks (really all season, but especially the past few weeks) is no secret. Iowa ranks 24th against the run. Ohio State and Northwestern all had – and NIU to some extent – had success on the ground with mobile quarterbacks. Does Michigan have any hope running the ball this week?

There’s something there, for sure, especially with the running quarterbacks — sometimes Iowa does alright (they held Northern Illinois to 163 yards and Lynch to just 56 yards) and sometimes they don’t (Miller torched Iowa for 102 yards on the ground by himself).  But at the same time Michigan is ranked 98th in running the ball and that offensive line has been unable to get much of a push at all for the better part of the last three weeks — I think Iowa has a pretty shot at keeping Michigan’s ground game in check on Saturday.  I’m definitely more worried about Devin Gardner’s scrambles than I am seeing Michigan line up and run Fitzgerald Touissant (or whichever running back is healthy) between the tackles, though.

3. Tell me about the Iowa passing game. For those who haven’t watched Iowa play this season, is Jake Rudock a playmaker or more of a game manager? Michigan’s DBs like to play soft coverage to prevent big plays…can he make big throws or is he more of a dink and dunker? And for the love of God, please tell me all of Iowa’s tight ends are injured this week…

CJ Fiedorowicz leads a talented group of Iowa tight ends (IU Athletic Communications)

Game manager is probably a more accurate description of his play than playmaker.  He’s a deceptively good runner, but he’s certainly no Johnny Manziel or Marcus Mariota in the pocket — he’s no threat to break off a 50-yard run.  (He’s even less of a running threat after sustaining a knee injury against Wisconsin a few weeks ago, although that injury is not expected to keep him out of the game this weekend.)  As a passer, Rudock’s best attribute is probably his poise; he doesn’t let bad plays faze him.  He doesn’t have the most powerful arm, his accuracy has suffered in league play (which is why his completion percentage has dipped to 59.9%), and he’s thrown a few too many costly interceptions (9 so far, including several in the fourth quarter).  But he has a calm presence in the pocket and he’s capable of leading some very impressive scoring drives.  Consistency is his biggest issue, which is not too surprising for a first-year starter.

In terms of tight ends, I believe Iowa will have a full contingent of them available for this weekend.  Iowa’s top tight end, C.J. Fiedorowicz left the Purdue game a few weeks ago due to concussion-like symptoms, but he appears to have a clean bill of health now.  CJF caught touchdowns in three straight games earlier in Big Ten play and he’s grabbed at least one pass in every game this year.  Ray Hamilton and Jake Duzey are the tight ends behind Fiedorowicz on the depth chart, but they see quite a bit of action themselves (Iowa has even been running some 3-TE sets over the last month or so) and are both very capable pass-catchers.  Iowa’s tight ends are the most consistent part of their passing game (other than top WR Kevonte Martin-Manley), so I’d definitely expect to see them be involved quite a bit on Saturday.

4. Where do you see Iowa having an outright advantage over Michigan this weekend, and why? Are there any areas that you think Michigan has the edge?

This is a tricky question because in a lot of ways, it seems like Iowa’s strengths will be matched up against Michigan’s strengths.  Iowa’s strength on offense all year has been their offensive line and running game; unfortunately, it seems like Michigan’s front seven has been pretty solid this year (the Wolverines are 13th in the nation against the run, after all).  I think the biggest edge for Iowa may be their tight ends.  Iowa has a lot of good tight ends (C.J. Fiedorowicz, Jake Duzey, and Ray Hamilton will all see a lot of action) and they gave Ohio State some problems with their 3-TE formations; I think they’d be wise to try and attack Michigan the same way and try to open things up for their running game.

I think the biggest edge for Michigan might be in attacking Iowa deep; Iowa’s safety play has been pretty inconsistent this season and they’ve given up a lot of big plays through the air.  If I was Michigan, I’d send a few deep passes at Funchess and Gallon to try and exploit that weakness.  Other than that, the biggest advantage for Michigan is probably Devin Gardner’s scrambling ability; Iowa’s defensive ends sometimes struggle to keep contain if a QB is able to keep a play alive for several seconds (I still have nightmares of Braxton Miller turning the corner and hitting the afterburners).

5. What’s your prediction and how will it happen?

As recently as a few weeks ago, I didn’t hold out much hope for Iowa getting a result in this game.  But then Iowa showed promise against Wisconsin (on defense, at least) and a lot more competence against Purdue (competition caveats apply, of course).  After those games it was a lot easier to chalk up Iowa’s losses against Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin as the result of playing the Big Ten’s three best teams  in a five-week span.  No offense to the Wolverines, but they don’t seem to be on par with those teams right now.  After their bye week earlier this season, Iowa had one of their sharpest first half offensive performances of the season (against Ohio State); I think they come out clicking again on Saturday and this time they’re able to hold on in the second half.  IOWA 24, MICHIGAN 16

To me this game comes down to whether Michigan’s offensive line can open holes and protect Devin Gardner. Iowa’s offense is a low scoring, run-based offense that Michigan should be able to contain and hold under 20 points. The Iowa defense, however, poses some issues for a Michigan team that has not only struggled to move the ball lately but has been downright awful on the road the past three years.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like our chances in Iowa City but there is a reason the game isn’t played on paper. Let’s move on and take a look at what Michigan needs to do to come away with a road win.

On Offense:

Last game we saw some glimpses of decent offensive line play, so assuming that carries forward and they can at least be serviceable let’s look at the rest of the offense.

After Derrick Green's solid game last week he should see more time against Iowa (MGoBlue.com)

Move the ball on first and second, avoiding third downs as much as possible. Michigan has been just awful on third downs this season, some of it is physical but a lot is probably mental as well. Last week against Northwestern they moved the ball quite a bit (when they did move it that is) on first and second down. If they can get 5-6 yards on first and second downs then they won’t get caught in the dreaded third down on the road situation. How they can do this is beyond me, I just know they need to avoid third downs as much as possible.

Stick with what is working, not what you think might work. What I mean by this is exactly what it says. Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith were having success running the ball, but then they stopped and started passing it because the wind was at their back and Borges wanted to see if they could pass it. Don’t do that anymore. If the run game is working, keep running until they stop you. If the pass game is going then keep with it. A balanced offense is nice but if you can run down their throats all day (as Wisconsin once did to us under RichRod) then why would you try to do something else?

Keep the game manageable until the fourth quarter. Iowa hasn’t been all that good in the fourth quarter so assuming that trend continues as long as Michigan can keep it close through the first three they should be in good shape for the final stanza.

Take advantage of good field position. As soon as Northwestern shanked the punt and set us up at the 10 I turned to my brother and said ‘no way they get six, lets just hope for at least three and not a turnover.’ This is Michigan, act like it and put the ball in the dang endzone when you are in the redzone, period. If we see more wasted opportunities I fear the football gods won’t be as kind to us in Iowa CIty as they were in Evanston.

Forget the past. Michigan hasn’t been very good away from The Big House in Brady Hoke’s tenure. Championship teams do win at home, but they also win on the road in hostile environments. The pink of Iowa’s visiting locker room doesn’t exactly scream ‘scary’ but Iowa City is a tough place to play. If they can just go out and not let the crowd intimidate them and not think about their past struggles on the road it will go a long way to strengthening their confidence.

On Defense:

Stop the run. Mark Weisman is a bruiser and has some speed but he won’t be winning any 100 meter races any time soon. While Iowa does pass the ball they are a run focused team. Stop the run and play coverage. I say play coverage because Michigan has yet to show me a legitimate pass rush and Iowa has only allowd 9 sacks in ten games. Michigan has given up more than twice that in the past three games alone. If Michigan focuses on stopping the run but still playing good coverage to keep everything in front of them they should be in good shape.

Get third down stops and force them to punt. This should be basic and a given but this team has been anything but consistent all year so I feel it deserves mention. Get the defense off the field and get Gardner the ball as much as possible.

Don’t give up the big play. Again this has been an issue for Michigan. One or two big plays can lead to scores and ultimately determine the outcome. Likewise, one or two big stops can keep Michigan in the game, if the offense is stagnant, or seal it if the offense is clicking on all cylinders.

Keep it manageable until the fourth quarter and let Iowa give it away as they so often do.

On Special Teams:

Just keep doing what you’re doing. Special teams has been rather pleasant to watch, as far as punting and kicking field goals can be deemed exciting. Win the field position game and Michigan will help put itself into good situations.

Prediction: This team has struggled too much on the road for me to be comfortable heading in. Couple that with a lackluster offensive line and a good front seven for Iowa and I just don’t see Michigan coming out of there with a win.

First Look: Iowa

Monday, November 18th, 2013


Michigan got back in the win column with a triple-overtime thriller over Northwestern on Saturday and now has to hit the road for a second straight week, this time to Iowa. Like this past Saturday’s game, neither team has a chance at a conference or division title at this point and both are playing simply to improve their final standing and bowl placement.

Iowa comes in at 6-4 overall and is tied with Michigan at 3-3 in the Legends Division. Like Michigan, the Hawkeyes enter this week’s matchup having lost three of their last five. But Kirk Ferentz’s squad has been better than most forecasted entering the season. The three losses in the last five weeks have been expected – to Michigan State, Ohio State, and Wisconsin – and the other loss was the season opener to Northern Illinois, which is currently undefeated and ranked 16th nationally.

Other than the 28-9 loss to Wisconsin, Iowa has played each opponent tough. Iowa led NIU 27-20, but the Huskies scored 10 points in the final five minutes and won with a 38-yard field goal with four seconds remaining. Against Michigan State, the Hawkeyes held a 14-10 halftime lead, and trailed just 20-14 at the start of the fourth before falling 26-14. Against Ohio State, Iowa led 17-10 at halftime and the game was tied at 24 heading into the fourth.

If there has been a theme it is fourth quarter letdowns. For the season, Iowa has been outscored by opponents 78-44 in the fourth quarter alone and the third quarter is a 55-55 tie. The Hawkeyes have outscored their opponents 160-54 in the first half.

Iowa Statistics & Michigan Comparison
IowaMichigan Rank Opponent Rank
Points Per Game 26.6 | 34.3 79 | 39 18.7 | 25.2 12 | T-51
Rushing Yards 1,9391,357 1,300 | 1,112
Rush Avg. Per Game 193.9 | 135.7 42 | 95 130.0 | 101.2 24 | 13
Avg. Per Rush 4.5 | 3.2 3.7 | 3.2
Passing Yards 2,0402,476 1,892 | 2,364
Pass Avg. Per Game 204.0247.6 88 | 52 189.2 | 236.4 12 | 75
Total Offense 3,9793,833 3,192 | 3,476
Total Off Avg. Per Game 397.9 | 383.3 71 | 83 319.2 | 347.6 9 | 19
Kick Return Average 18.6 | 22.9 106 | 39 24.3 | 21.9 107 | 74
Punt Return Average 16.9 | 6.6 3 | 82 5.1 | 7.4 26 | 57
Avg. Time of Possession 31:4032:11 31 | 22 28:20 | 27:49
3rd Down Conversion Pct 47% | 38% 24 | 74 36% | 39% 37 | 67
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 9-36 | 31-230 T9 | T113 17-64 | 20-155 T81 | T61
Touchdowns Scored 32 | 42 22 | 27
Field Goals-Attempts 14-18 | 16-23 11-13 | 22-27
Red Zone Scores (31-40)77% | (36-43)84% 94 | T56 (17-20)85% | (30-34)88% 80 | 97
Red Zone Touchdowns (20-40)50% | (26-43)60% (9-20)45% | (17-34)50%

The main thing that stands out from Iowa’s stats this season is the defense, which ranks ninth nationally in total defense, 12th in scoring defense, 12th against the pass, and 24th against the run. The Hawkeyes held Ohio State to 34 points, the Buckeyes’ second-lowest total of the season, and 15 points below their season average. In addition, the 30 points Iowa allowed to Northern Illinois were their second lowest total of the season and nearly 15 points below their season average.

Kevonte Martin-Manley has returned two punts for touchdowns this season (Denny Medley, US Presswire)

That doesn’t bode well for a Michigan offense struggling to move the ball and score points. Prior to overtime against Northwestern, Michigan’s offense had scored just one touchdown in three full games. The Wolverines managed to score two in the three overtime stanzas, but Iowa’s defense will be a much tougher test than Nebraska and Northwestern’s were the past two weeks.

Offensively, Iowa is rather pedestrian. The Hawkeyes rank second to last in the Big Ten in points per game (26.6), ahead of only lowly Purdue. They have scored more than 30 points just twice all season, in a 59-3 win over Western Michigan and a 38-14 win over Purdue. Otherwise, the Hawkeyes have been pretty consistently in the mid-20s all season.

Iowa ranks seventh in the conference in total offense, slightly ahead of Michigan, averaging about 15 more total yards more than Michigan per game. The Hawkeyes rank fifth with 194.4 rushing yards per game and seventh with 204 passing yards per game. Michigan currently ranks 11th and fourth, respectively. When it comes to pass efficiency, Iowa is ahead of only Michigan State and Purdue.

One insane stat is the pass protection that Iowa’s offensive line has given quarterback Jake Rudock. He has been sacked just nine times through ten games this season, which is tied with Michigan State for the fewest in the Big Ten and ranks ninth nationally. By comparison, Michigan has given up 19 sacks in just the past three games. The good news for Michigan is that Iowa’s defense has gotten to the opposing quarterback just 17 times all season – three fewer than Michigan.

Perhaps the best stat for the Hawkeyes is the punt return average for receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley. On 14 returns, he is averaging 18.8 yards, which is more than twice as many as the second-best in the Big Ten. It’s also good for third best nationally. Kick returns are a different story, however, as Iowa averages a Big Ten-worst 18.6 yards per return.

It is sure to be a hostile environment as it always is in Kinnick Stadium. Iowa needs a win to assure itself a winning season. Michigan needs a win to carry over the momentum from its overtime win over Northwestern into next week’s showdown with Ohio State.

Key Players
Passing Comp-Att Yards TD INT Rating
Jake Rudock 167-279 1,916 14 9 127.6
Rushing Attempts Yards TD Long Avg/Carry
Mark Weisman 167 777 4 37 4.7
Damon Bullock 108 455 1 22 4.2
Jordan Canzeri 49 338 2 43 6.9
Jake Rudock (QB) 49 188 5 31 3.8
Receiving Receptions Yards TD Long Avg/Game
Kevonte Martin-Manley 35 304 3 22 33.8
Damond Powell 12 291 2 74 32.3
Tevaun Smith 19 213 0 36 21.3
CJ Fiedorowicz (TE) 20 188 4 18 18.8
Defense Solo Assisted Total Tackles TFL-Yds Sacks-Yds
Anthony Hitchens (LB) 37 50 87 10.0-16 2.0-3
James Morris (LB) 19 42 81 10.0-34 (3INT) 5.0-22 (1FR)
Drew Ott (DE) 18 25 43 6.5-11 2.5-5
BJ Lowery (DB) 32 18 50 1.0-2 (3INT) 0-0 (13PBU)
Kicking FGA FGM Long XPA XPM
Mike Meyer 18 14 49 31 31
Punting Punts Yds Avg. TB In 20
Connor Kornbrath 47 1,884 40.1 2 21
Full Stats

2013 opponent preview: Iowa

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013


The fifth installment of our opponent preview series features who we believe will be the fifth easiest – or eighth toughest – opponent on the schedule, the Iowa Hawkeyes. It’s unusual for a traditional conference power like Iowa to rank so low in terms of difficulty – especially with the likes of Indiana, Minnesota and UConn on the schedule – but this is going to be another rough year for the Hawkeyes. Let’s take a closer look.

Greg Davis

Overview

The Big Ten’s elder statesman, Kirk Ferentz, enters the 2013 season with a hotter seat than he’s used to. His Hawkeyes have gone downhill each of the last four seasons, from 11-2 in 2009 to 8-5 in 2010 to 7-6 in 2011 to just 4-8 a year ago, the latter being the worst record since his second season in Iowa City.

Prior to last season, he replaced both coordinators, brining in Greg Davis to run the offense and promoting Phil Parker to guide the defense. This offseason, Ferentz brought in former Virginia defensive coordinator Jim Reid as a defensive assistant and former Colorado wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy to coach receivers. Ferentz hopes the changes can save his job.

Offense

The first order of business will be finding a replacement at quarterback for James Vendenberg, who played every down last season. The frontrunner is sophomore Jake Rudock, though he wasn’t able to create any separation in the spring. Junior college transfer Cody Sokol and redshirt freshman C.J. Beathard are also in the running.

The good news is that whoever wins the job will have a pair of experienced backs to hand the ball off to. Juniors Mark Weisman and Damon Bullock are back after rushing for 815 yards and eight touchdowns and 513 yards and three touchdowns, respectively, last season. Weisman recorded four straight 100-yard games, including a 217-yard performance against Central Michigan, before an ankle injury caused him to miss a couple of games.

On the edge, two of the top three pass catchers return, led by junior Kevonte Martin-Maley who caught 52 passes for 571 yards and two touchdowns last season. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz was the team’s third-leading receiver with 45 catches for 433 yards, but only one touchdown. Look for him to be a good crutch for the new signal caller.

The offensive line returns four players with significant starting experience, including bookends Brandon Scherff and Brett Van Sloten. Scherff missed some time with a broken leg last season, but is fully recovered and ready to anchor the line. Austin Blythe, who started nine games at right guards last season, slides over to center.

Defense

Six starters return in the back seven, though the one that is gone, cornerback Micah Hyde, was the best of the bunch. His replacement will be sophomore Jordan Lomax, who played in 11 games in 2011, but redshirted last season after suffering a shoulder injury. Opposite Lomax is B.J. Lowery, while the experienced Tanner Miller mans the free safety spot and the hard-hitting Nico Law is back at strong safety.

Schedule
Date Opponent
Aug. 31 Northern Illinois
Sept. 7 Missouri State
Sept. 14 @ Iowa State
Sept. 21 Western Michigan
Sept. 28 @ Minnesota
Oct. 5 Michigan State
Oct. 19 @ Ohio State
Oct. 26 Northwestern
Nov. 2 Wisconsin
Nov. 9 @ Purdue
Nov. 23 Michigan
Nov. 29 @ Nebraska

All three linebackers – Christian Kirksey, James Morris, and Anthony Hitchens – return for their senior seasons with a combined 65 starts. Morris led the team with 113 tackles, while Kirksey led the conference with four fumble recoveries.

Ferentz needs playmakers to step up along the line and the most likely candidate is end Dominic Alvis. The only other returning starter is tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat. Carl Davis and Darian Cooper will rotate through the other tackle spot, while sophomore Drew Ott should man the other end.

Special Teams

Both kicker Mike Meyer and punter Connor Kornbrath return. Meyer connected on 17 of 21 field goal attempts a year ago, while Kornbrath ranked ninth in the Big Ten with an average of 37.9 yards per punt. Senior Jordan Cotton led the conference with a 28.2 kick return average in 2012 and took one 92 yards for a touchdown.

Outlook

The good news for Iowa is that the offense was so bad last year, there’s nowhere to go but up. It really all depends on the quarterback and finding a balance between Ferentz’s preferred smash-mouth running game and Davis’ spread passing attack. But it’s safe to say these Hawkeyes won’t challenge for the Big Ten title this season.

What it means for Michigan

There are three reasons why Iowa isn’t ranked lower on the list of toughest opponents. First, the game is in Iowa City in late November where the weather is always unpredictable. It could very well be cold and windy or snowing which could negate Michigan’s talent and speed advantages. Secondly, it falls right after a tough three-week stretch of games at Michigan State, home against Nebraska and at Northwestern. The Wolverines will need a breather after those three, but to make matters worse, Ohio State looms the next week, so Michigan can’t afford to overlook the Hawkeyes. Finally, Iowa may very well be clawing for its postseason life. After going 4-8 last season, a two-game improvement is certainly within reach, but the Hawkeyes will likely need to win one of the last two against Michigan or Nebraska. With Michigan at home, it’s the most likely, so Iowa will be playing with nothing to lose.

The good thing is Hoke has shown he is capable of keeping his teams focused, so don’t expect Michigan to overlook Iowa. It’s late enough in the season that both sides of the ball will be solidified, barring injuries, and Michigan will be by far the better team. The biggest question mark is the great equalizer – the weather. Regardless, Michigan should win, but it may be closer than most expect.

Michigan vs Iowa preview

Saturday, January 5th, 2013


#2 Michigan v. Iowa
Sunday, Jan. 6 | 12pm ET | Big Ten Network
14-0 (1-0) Record 11-3 (0-1)
Slippery Rock 100-62
IUPUI 91-54
Cleveland State 77-47
Pittsburgh 67-62
Kansas State 71-57
NC State 79-72
Bradley 74-66
W. Michigan 73-41
Arkansas 80-67
Binghamton 67-39
West Virginia 81-66
E. Michigan 93-54
C. Michigan 88-73
Northwestern 94-66
Wins UTPA 86-55
C. Michigan 73-61
Howard 66-36
Gardner-Webb 65-56
W. Kentucky 63-55
Texas A&M-CC 88-59
South Dakota 87-63
Iowa State 80-71
Northern Iowa 80-73
S. Carolina State 90-46
Coppin State 80-50
Losses Wichita State 63-75
Virginia Tech 79-95
#5 Indiana 65-69
81.1 Points Per Game 76.1
59.0 Scoring Defense 61.7
423-for-818 (51.7%) Field Goal % 360-for-814 (44.2%)
317-for-788 (40.2%) Def. Field Goal % 310-for-838 (37.0%)
125-for-297 (42.1%) 3-point % 81-for-263 (30.8%)
90-for-289 (31.1%) Def. 3-point % 78-for-280 (27.9%)
164-for-226 (72.6%) Free Throw % 264-for-369 (71.5%)
11.7 FT Made/Game 18.9
37.6 Rebounds Per Game 41.4
28.6 Opp. Reb. Per Game 34.5
16.4 Assists Per Game 16.7
9.9 Turnovers Per Game 13.7
5.4 Steals Per Game 7.2
2.6 Blocks Per Game 5.2
G – Trey Burke (18.1)
G – Tim Hardaway Jr. (16.2)
Leading Scorer G – Devyn Marble (15.6)
F – Aaron White (13.7)
F – Glenn Robinson (5.9)
F – Mitch McGary (5.8)
Leading Rebounder F – Aaron White (6.4)
C – Adam Woodbury (5.4)

After dominating Northwestern in the Big Ten opener on Thursday night, Michigan returns home on Sunday afternoon to face the Iowa Hawkeyes in the Big Ten home opener at noon on the Big Ten Network.

Iowa comes in with an impressive-looking 11-3 record, although when you examine their schedule you’ll see an utter lack of quality opponents. The highest ranked team the Hawkeyes have beaten is Iowa State, which is No. 47 according to Pomeroy. Aside from the Cyclones, Iowa lost to Pomeroy No. 20 Wichita State and lost by just four to 5th-ranked Indiana. The latter was certainly impressive, as Iowa may have pulled it off had leading scorer Devyn Marble shot better than 1-of-14. Still, he scored 14 points thanks to a 12-of-13 performance from the free throw line, but if he had merely shot 21 percent from the field, it may have been good enough.

As a team, Iowa shoots just over 44 percent, but is a good rebounding team, averaging 41.4 per game. That’s good for 19th nationally. By comparison, Michigan averages about four rebounds fewer. On the other hand, Iowa gives up about six more rebounds than Michigan does. The Hawkeyes also average nearly 17 assists per game, which is 24th nationally, but they also turn the ball over nearly 14 times per game.

As mentioned above, Devyn Marble is the main man, averaging 15.6 points per game. He’s also third on the team with 4.5 rebounds a game. The 6-6 guard from Southfield, Mich. dropped 30 and 27 in consecutive games against Northern Iowa and South Carolina State. In those two games, he connected on 10-of-17 threes and 14-of-27 shots overall. But like his poor shooting outing against Indiana, when he’s off, he’s off. He also went 2-of-10 against Iowa State and scored just six points. Perhaps not so coincidentally, those two poor outings were against the best teams Iowa has played so far. Add in his 4-of-12 performance against Wichita State and he shot a combined 10-of-36 against the top three opponents.

Sophomore forward Aaron White is the only other Hawkeye averaging double figures at 13.7 points. He also leads the team in rebounding with a 6.4 average. Unlike Marble, he stepped up in big games, scoring 15 against IU and 18 against Iowa State. Despite being 6’8″, he has the ability to step out and hit the three every now and then, though he’s just 21.7 percent.

Freshman point guard Mike Gesell averages 9.6 points and 3.3 assists. He scored 23 against Northern Iowa, hitting 4-of-6 threes. But he had a 2-of-10 outing against Iowa State and 0-of-8 against Gardner-Webb, so he’s prone to poor shooting nights as well. He’ll have a tough time keeping up with Trey Burke.

Junior forward Melsahn Basabe averages 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. His season high is 17 points against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and he only has one other double-digit scoring game on the season.

Freshman guard Anthony Clemmons leads the team with 3.9 assists per game and also has the ability to knock down the three, shooting 41.2 percent.

The center is 7’1″ freshman Adam Woodbury out of Sioux City, Iowa who averages 6.4 points and leads the team with 5.4 rebounds per game. His season high was 13 against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. If there’s someone on the team you want to foul, it’s him as he shoots just 51.9 percent from the line.

Iowa is a team Michigan has had some struggles with in the past few years, but that has been on the road. With this game being in Ann Arbor, there should be no cause for concern. The only thing that may make this closer than expected is a letdown from the big 28-point win at Northwestern. Michigan is bound to have a poor shooting night one of these nights, but it shouldn’t matter in this one. The Wolverines have too much talent for the overmatched Hawkeyes and should win by around 15 points.

Michigan 42 – Iowa 17: Devin and Denard show topples Hawkeyes

Sunday, November 18th, 2012


Michigan scored touchdowns on its first six drives and Devin Gardner had a career day as Michigan routed an Iowa team that had beaten it the past three seasons. Denard Robinson played his last game ever in the Big House, and boy was it a good one.

Michigan 42 – Iowa 17
Final Stats
42 Final Score 17
8-3, 6-1 Record 4-7, 2-5
513 Total Yards 309
199 Net Rushing Yards 128
314 Net Passing Yards 181
23 First Downs 17
1 Turnovers 0
3-35 Penalties – Yards 3-21
1-43 Punts – Yards 4-165
30:23 Time of Possession 29:37
9-of-12 Third Down Conversions 6-of-14
2-of-2 Fourth Down Conversions 1-of-3
2-7 Sacks By – Yards 0-0
0-for-0 Field Goals 1-for-1
6-for-6 PATs 2-for-2
4-for-4 Red Zone Scores – Chances 3-for-4

With his elbow injury still inhibiting his ability to throw Denard took the field as a running back. Most assumed it was just to let the senior get on the field one last time, but Al Borges had other ideas. In a glimpse of what he might be in the NFL, Denard played a little running back, wide receiver and quarterback, though he did not attempt any passes. He even managed to break a couple of his trademark runs; one came on a reception which he turned back and ran the entire width of the field en route to a big gain. While it was great to see Denard be Denard again it wasn’t all fun and games as Fitz Toussaint had to be carted off the field with a broken leg. We wish him a speedy recovery and hope he can be back to 100 percent come next spring.

Much like Ohio State has been the Braxton Miller show all year, this game was the Devin Gardner show as he accounted for all six Wolverine scores: three in the air and three on the ground. And while the Iowa defense isn’t anything to be feared, Gardner did what any good quarterback should do against a poor defense: torch it. Devin went 18-of-23 for a career high 314 yards passing and added 37 more yards on the ground to go along with the aforementioned six touchdowns.

The game appeared as though it might be a battle at first as Iowa moved within four points with nine minutes to go in the second quarter. But Michigan had other ideas and rattled off 28 unanswered after that and closed out the Hawkeyes in convincing fashion.

After Michigan scored to go up 7-0, Iowa mounted a 75-yard drive on the legs of Mark Weisman and it looked like Iowa was going to run all over Michigan. The Wolverines answered, scoring on a 37-yard pass to Roundtree, who has quite the chemistry with Gardner. Iowa added a field goal on its next possession to cut the lead to 14-10, but that would be as close as they got. Gardner ran in a score, then hit Vincent Smith on a great screen play to put Michigan up 28-10 at the half. The only mistake – if you want to call it that – that Michigan made all day was a Gardner pick in the fourth quarter.

It is yet to be determined whether Denard will resume his duties as quarterback next week against the Buckeyes. If I had to guess I’d say that Hoke and Borges will keep Gardner as the starter and continue to use Denard as a receiver/running back. Denard is the heart and soul of this team but there is no denying they are a much better offensive team with Gardner at the helm. Not to take anything away from what Denard means but Gardner is the better passer, plain and simple. That said, Denard is too deadly of an athlete and leader to keep off the field. The freak nerve injury to his elbow may be just what Michigan needs to get past the surging Buckeyes who are still chock full of elite talent, while Michigan is still rebuilding from its failed RichRod experiment. At the very least, we’ve seen a glimpse of what this offense will look like next season with Gardner as the full time starter. I am in no way saying this should have been the set up all year, but now that we’ve seen it I have to say I like it a lot.

Michigan travels to Columbus to take on the undefeated Buckeyes in what is essentially OSU’s bowl game. Before the season I predicted a Michigan loss, but with Devin Gardner under center and Denard Robinson being utilized in other ways I may just change my mind. I will save my prediction for our weekly staff picks later this week.

M&GB Pick’em: Iowa staff predictions

Friday, November 16th, 2012


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

___________________________

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

Michigan vs Iowa game preview

Friday, November 16th, 2012


The final home game of the season is upon us and Michigan will be looking to send its seniors off in style with a win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. At this point, the Hawkweys hold the longest winning streak of any opponent over Michigan – three games – and Brady Hoke would love to end that just as he did to the streaks Ohio State and Michigan State had accumulated.

For the third straight week, uncertainty surrounds the quarterback position as Denard Robinson has yet to be publicly cleared to play. Devin Gardner has filled in nicely the past two weeks and will likely be tasked to do the same tomorrow. Michigan remains in contention for the Big Ten Legends division title and a spot in the championship game, but must win out.

Michigan Stadium  -  Ann Arbor, Mich.
12pm EST  -  ESPN
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Iowa Head Coach: Kirk Ferentz (14th season)
Coaching Record: 100-72 (112-93 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Greg Davis
Defensive Coordinator: Phil Parker
Returning Starters: 8 (5 offense, 3 defense)
Last Season: 7-6 (4-4)
Last Meeting: Iowa 24 – Michigan 16 (2011)
All-time Series: Michigan leads 40-13-4
In Ann Arbor: Michigan leads 23-6-3
In Michigan Stadium: 22-5-3
Current Streak: Iowa 3

Iowa should provide a nice tune-up for the epic showdown that looms in Columbus a week from tomorrow. The Hawkeyes come in needing a win to stay alive for bowl contention. At 4-6, Iowa must win its last two to get a bowl bid. Iowa’s four wins were over Northern Illinois (18-17), Northern Iowa (27-16), Minnesota (31-13), and Michigan State (19-16 OT). The Hawkeyes lost to Iowa State (9-6), Central Michigan (32-31), Penn State (38-14), Northwestern (28-17), Indiana (24-21), and Purdue (27-24). The latter four of those losses have come consecutively in the last four weeks following the overtime victory over MSU. Can Iowa somehow rekindle the magic it found in East Lansing? Or will Michigan ensure the ‘Hawks will be home for the holidays? Let’s take a look at the matchups.

When Iowa has the ball

As I explained in Monday’s First Look, Iowa’s offense has been downright anemic this season under new offensive coordinator Greg Davis. The man who coordinated Texas’ offense for 13 seasons hasn’t been able to get things going, but he also doesn’t have Vince Young at his disposal.

James Vandenberg is a competent quarterback, but doesn’t have much to throw to due to the departure of Marvin McNutt. Vandenberg has completed 56.9 percent of his passes for 1,976 yards, five touchdowns, and six interceptions. He hasn’t thrown for 250 yards in a game all season and hasn’t thrown multiple touchdowns in a single game either. Penn State held him to just 47.2 percent completions for 189 yards, a touchdown, and two picks and his numbers against Iowa State, Michigan State, and Purdue were similar.

As mentioned above, he lacks top-notch receivers like he had with McNutt. The leaders are Kennan Davis and Kevonte Martin-Manley who have 46 catches for 560 yards and 47 catches for 545 yards, respectively. But only Martin-Manley has multiple touchdown grabs (two). Mammoth tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz 31 receptions for 278 yards and a touchdown. The main issue has been big plays. The entire offense has just 14 plays of 25 yards or more this season. McNutt had 15 by himself a year ago.

James Vandenberg led the Big Ten in passing last season, but has just five TDs in 2012

In the backfield, Angry Iowa Running Back Hating God has struck again. The leading rusher, Mark Weisman, had four straight 100-yard games, including a 217-yard performance against Central Michigan and 116 yards against Michigan State. But he left the Northwestern game with an ankle injury and has missed the last two games. He’s likely out this week as well. In his stead, sophomore Damon Bullock has been up and down. He rushed for 107 yards against Northwestern and 150 in the season opener, but has averaged just 2.6 yards per carry in the last two weeks. Purdue, who Michigan shredded for 304 yards rushing, held him to just 43 yards on 23 carries.

Davis’ offense is of the pro-style variety and calls for a zone running scheme and an underneath passing game. The offensive line has been through its share of injuries this season and has been a major factor in the lack of a run game. The lack of a true deep threat like McNutt has caused the underneath routes to be less effective. Expect Greg Mattison to unleash a blitz scheme designed to pressure Vandenberg into making quick decisions.

When Michigan has the ball

Like the offense, Iowa’s defense is guided by a new coordinator this season. Phil Parker has a solid group of linebackers but not much else. Despite the new coordinator it’s essentially the same defensive style as what Norm Parker ran, as Phil Parker was the team’s defensive backs coach for the previous 13 seasons.

While the Hawkeyes rank 29th nationally in points allowed, the total defense is a mediocre 51st. Each of the last four opponents have racked up over 400 yards of offense, and Penn State surpassed 500.

Junior linebacker Anthony Hitchens is the Big Ten’s leading tackler by a wide margin with 114, while James Morris ranks third and Christian Kirksey ranks 12th. Each of the three has more tackles than Michigan’s leading tackler, Desmond Morgan and they’re all solid linebackers.

The rest of the defense, not so much. Tackle Joe Gaglione has five sacks and nine tackles for loss, but no one else on the team has more than two sacks. The line has trouble getting pressure on the quarterback, ranking 111th nationally with just 11 sacks in 10 games.

The secondary has a pair of experienced corners in Micah Hyde and B.J. Lowery. Hyde is the team’s fourth leading tackler with 67, has a pair of fumble recoveries, and ranks fourth in the Big Ten with 12 pass breakups. The three-year starter doesn’t get beat often. Lowery, you might remember for knocking down Michigan’s final pass in the end zone last year, thwarting the comeback attempt.

The 4-3 defense employed by Parker isn’t overly aggressive and prefers to sit back and let the play come to it. The last four opponents have scored just an average of just over 29 points per game, and there’s no reason to think Michigan won’t do otherwise.

Rushing Attempts: 12 – Denard will pass Tyrone Wheatley for 6th in career rushing attempts.
Rushing Yards: 4 – Denard will pass Tyrone Wheatley for 4th in career rushing yards. With 115, he could pass Missouri’s Brad Smith (2002-05) for 2nd in NCAA FBS history. With 219, he could pass Jamie Morris for 3rd in Michigan history.
Rushing Touchdowns: 1 – Denard will pass Mike Hart for 3rd in career rushing touchdowns.
100 rushing yards: Denard will pass Jamie Morris for 4th in career 100-yard rushing games.
Pass Completions: 17 – Denard will pass Tom Brady for 5th in career completions.
Pass Yards: 211 – Denard will pass Elvis Grbac for 3rd in career passing yards.
Total Yards: 170 – Denard will pass Illinois’ Juice Williams (2006-09) for 6th in career total yards in Big Ten history.
Field Goals: 1 – Brendan Gibbons will pass Bob Bergeron for 6th in career field goals made. With 2 he will tie Ali Haji-Sheikh for 5th.

The other third

Kicker Mike Meyer has converted 16-of-19 field goals on the season with a long of 50. He made 14-of-20 last season and 14-of-17 in 2010 for a career average of 78.6. Punter Connor Kornbrath has an average of 37.4, which ranks 10th in the conference. Former Michigan quarterback commit John Wienke has also punted a dozen times with similar results.

The return game is below average, although Jordan Cotton leads the Big Ten with a 27.9-yard kick return average with one touchdown. Hyde handles punt return duties with an average of 5.4 yards per return. The Hawkeyes do defend returns pretty well, ranking 31st and 27th nationally in kick and punt return coverage, respectively.

Prediction

The biggest danger for Michigan in this one is overlooking the Hawkeyes for next week’s battle in Columbus. But a couple of factors exist that won’t allow that to happen. First of all, it’s Senior Day, so Denard, Jordan Kovacs, et al. will want to go off in style. Secondly, Michigan has the nation’s second longest home winning streak and hasn’t lost in the Big House since Hoke took over. Finally, Iowa has won the last three meetings and you can bet Hoke won’t let the team overlook that fact. Michigan will come to battle Iowa as if the Hawkeyes were the Buckeyes.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Denard didn’t play much. Michigan can win this one without him and needs him fully healthy for Ohio State, a possible Big Ten championship game, and the bowl game. There’s no use in letting him re-aggravate the elbow in this one. That being said, it is his final game in Michigan Stadium, so he may start and play a series or see a few plays here and there, but don’t expect him to play the full game.

With Gardner at quarterback, Michigan’s offense will look like it has the past two weeks. Fitz Toussaint and Thomas Rawls will split time in the backfield, although Vincent Smith will likely get some time as well since he’s a senior. Gardner will have another big day throwing and Michigan will cruise to a win, setting up the big one next Saturday.

Michigan 35 – Iowa 17

Friend vs Foe: Iowa edition

Thursday, November 15th, 2012


For this week’s edition of Friend vs. Foe, we are proud to welcome RossWB from the ever popular Iowa SB Nation blog Black Heart Gold Pants.  He will provide his perspective on how or why Iowa can beat Michigan on Saturday. Remember, this is not an actual game prediction. It is an attempt to describe how or why each team can win from each side of the matchup.

The case for Iowa
by RossWB

How can Iowa win this game? If Michigan contracts a serious case of food poisoning on Saturday morning, Iowa could win this game. If the Iowa bus gets lost and they wind up playing the game against a team of Ann Arbor middle schoolers, Iowa could win this game. If Kirk Ferentz is allowed to use a time machine, Iowa could win this game.

But as far as serious ways for Iowa to win this game…well, if you’ve seen the highlights – or even just read the box scores – from the last four weeks, then you probably know why it’s hard to have even a sliver of confidence in Iowa winning this game. They’ve lost four games in a row in Big Ten play, twice to decent opponents (Penn State and Northwestern) and twice to the Big Ten’s Indiana contingent. And the “decent” opponents absolutely massacred Iowa. The Indiana and Purdue games were close losses that, truth be told, were probably only close because of too many turnovers and penalties by those teams.

The Iowa offense hasn’t put up 20 points on their own since September, when they scored 24 of Iowa’s 31 points against Minnesota. (Iowa scored 21 and 24 points the last two weeks, but each game featured a defensive touchdown by Iowa.) The offense was bad to begin with, but it went from bad to farcical when it lost probably its two best players in back-to-back games (RB Mark Weisman against Michigan State, OT Brandon Scherff against Penn State). Now the offensive line can’t do much of anything, the receivers can’t get open, and the quarterback is a jittery mess still trying to adjust to life as a square peg in the round hole that is Greg Davis’ offense.

Only one of Iowa’s past four opponents has cracked 30 points (Penn State), but the other teams easily could have cracked 30 points if not for some untimely turnovers and red zone miscues. Each of Iowa’s last four opponents has amassed over 400 yards of offense and they’ve done it in a variety of ways; Penn State killed Iowa with balance, Northwestern ripped Iowa to bits on the ground, Indiana shredded them through the air, and Purdue did a little bit of everything. The defensive line can’t get pressure, the secondary struggles to cover, and two of the top three linebackers ended the previous game on the bench, for injuries or other reasons.

So how can Iowa win? They’ll probably need touchdowns from defense and special teams, for one. (And actual touchdowns, not just short fields – I have zero confidence in the Iowa offense being able to take advantage of a short field and score touchdowns themselves.) They’ll need Michigan’s offense to have an absolutely miserable day and turn the ball over several times. They’ll probably need the Michigan defense to forget how to tackle. And they’ll probably need to lock Greg Davis in a closet, give James Vandenberg a playbook from 2011, and hope for the best. Iowa has won three in a row over Michigan and they did pull an upset over Big Blue last year, but that was a better Iowa team, one that wasn’t bereft of talent, good ideas, and confidence. To win this year, Iowa probably needs a minor miracle.

The case for Michigan
by Justin

It’s hard to imagine Michigan losing this one unless Denard doesn’t play and Devin Gardner gets hurt too. Then it’s anyone’s guess. Iowa has surrendered over 400 yards to each of its past four opponents, one of which being a Purdue squad that was previously winless in conference play. Regardless of whether Denard or Devin is piloting the offense, Michigan should be able to move the ball.

But Iowa’s main problems are on the offensive side of the ball where the Hawkeyes are averaging just 19 points per game over the last five. The run game ranks second to last in the Big Ten and took a big hit when Mark Weisman went down two weeks ago. James Vandenberg is a decent quarterback, and the best way for Iowa to try to attack Michigan would be with the passing game. We all saw how Northwestern’s Trevor Siemian was able to shred the Michigan secondary the few series he was in last week. The main difference was that NW had a running game that Michigan was having trouble stopping as well. Despite the No.1 overall pass defense, Michigan’s secondary has been vulnerable to the deep ball all season; opposing quarterbacks just haven’t been accurate with it. If Iowa can hit a couple of them they could back Michigan’s defense off.

But make no mistake about it. If Michigan scores more than 20 points, it will win. And there’s absolutely no reason to think the Wolverines will be held below 20. I have a hard time believing Denard will play much if at all this weekend, so the offense will be the same as it has been the past two weeks: pro-style, power running with a better passing game. Devin Gardner’s command of the offense will continue to improve and he’ll be able to exploit the Hawkeye defense just as the past four opponents have.

The main thing Michigan has to worry about in this one is not looking ahead to undefeated Ohio State next week. That’s where the last three years come into play. Iowa’s three-game winning streak over Michigan allows Brady Hoke to keep the team focused on ending the streak, just like it did against OSU last year and Michigan State a few weeks ago. On Senior Day, you can bet the 18 seniors won’t want their careers to expire having never beaten the Hawkeyes.  In addition to that, Michigan is still in the hunt for the Legends division title, so expect another big day by Garnder leading Michigan to a win setting up a huge showdown in Columbus next Saturday.