Iowa Hawkeyes Football Preview: Michigan Wolverines

Week 11 brings a primetime matchup in Iowa City with Jim Harbaugh and the Michigan Wolverines.

Overview

Lloyd Carr retired as the head football coach of the Michigan Wolverines back in 2007.  Since then, Michigan has struggled through Rich Rodriguez and Brady Hoke.  After firing Hoke in 2014 after a 5-7 season, the Wolverines brought in former QB, Jim Harbaugh.  They went 10-3 in his first season as head coach and won the Citrus Bowl.  

Michigan was a fumbled punt away from being in the conversation for the College Football Playoff last year, well that was before getting smashed by Ohio State in their final regular season game.

Michigan found a lot of success with former Iowa QB, Jake Rudock, last season.  Harbaugh got an experienced game manager in his first season as head coach, but Rudock is gone and he'll have to break in a new signal caller. 

The Wolverines are 41-14-4 in their history against the Hawkeyes, but have lost four our of the last five with the last one coming back in 2013 in Iowa City.  The Hawkeyes dominated the game in terms of total yardage, but turned it over four times and wound up winning the game by a score of 24-21 on a Mike Meyer field goal with six minutes left in the game.

Looking at Michigan's schedule, there is a strong chance they come into this game with either one loss or zero for that matter.  Compare that to Iowa, and I see the same for the Hawkeyes.  There is a strong chance these teams square off in a top 10 battle.  Given the fact that it's Michigan, it's family weekend, it's a primetime game, and it's a blackout, expect Kinnick Stadium to be rocking.

Offense

The Wolverines were stout on offense last season.  They were top four in the conference in scoring offense at 30 ppg.  They were also top four in passing yardage per game and total yards per game.  They did struggle to run the football, ranking eighth in that category.  

They are going to return all but one starter on the offensive line.  They return pass catchers Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, who was an elite talent last year catching 50 balls for 764 yards and nine touchdowns.  Darboh was no slouch either, he led the team with 58 catches last season.  Jake Butt, who was arguably the best tight end in the conference last season also returns for his senior year.  

Michigan will get De'Veon Smith back in the backfield after rushing for 753 yards last season, but the real question is going to be who replaces Rudcok at the QB spot.  All signs point to Houston transfer, John O'Korn, who has completed almost 350 passes in his college career.  O'Korn has also thrown for 34 touchdowns as a college quarterback.  

Wilton Speight, who completed nine passes last season figures to be the lead contender for O'Korn at the QBspot.

Whoever winds up winning the job shouldn't have a problem completing passes with arguably the conferences best receiving corp on the team.

Defense

D.J. Durkin did a masterful job last season coaching this defense.  They ranked in the top five in scoring defense, rushing and passing yards given up per game, and total yards given up per game.  Well, Durkin has since split to take over Maryland's football program, but Harbaugh brought in Don Brown, who was the man behind Boston College's number one overall defense last season.  Iowa's Jim Reid split for BC's defensive coordinator position soon after.  

Brown will take over a talented bunch that includes Jourdan Lewis and Jabrill Peperrs.  Both were first team All-Big Ten, according to BTN last season.  Peppers has bulked up a bit and has since moved into a hybrid linebacker spot.  He's one of the best athletes in the country and can hurt you in a lot of ways if you aren't careful.  

Michigan also returns Delano Hill at the safety spot.  Ryan Glasgow and Chris Wormley along the defensive line also return.  They'll have to replace Willie Henry, who was lost to the NFL this past season, but did bring in Rashan Gary, the nations number one recruit by most peoples accounts.  He'll play defensive tackle.

http://www.scout.com/player/178462-rashan-gary?s=8

Early Prediction

This one has dogfight written all over it.  I think that Michigan has more talent at this point in time, but Iowa isn't too far behind them.  Iowa will have the home field advantage.  O'Korn, who I expect to win the starting job, will have plenty of time under his belt by then, so Iowa won't have the benefit of an inexperienced QB. 

However, it's a lot better than having Rudock come in, who would be a guy familiar with the atmosphere.  I expect this game to be physical and mean.  It'll be cold and I think that turns it into a defensive struggle. Iowa's run game will be better than Michigan's, which could play a huge role.  Michigan has extremely talented receivers, but if it's cold and snowy, that ball can be hard to throw and catch. 

I think this goes down to the wire and the Hawkeyes lose another tight ball game, 20-17.  Rashan Gary probably moves into a starting role by this time and adds another talented player to a defense that already has a bunch of it.  


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories