The Iowa Football team had a rough go of it last week in Happy Valley. They got blown out by a Penn State team that many thought Iowa could hang with. The Nittany Lions recorded nearly 600 yards of total offense and it was pretty much over in the middle of the second quarter.
This now makes two of the last three games for Iowa in which they've allowed 500-plus total yards to their opponent. The only exception in there would be the Wisconsin Badgers, but even that offense was able to muster 423 against the Hawkeyes (it was their 3rd largest output of the season).
This is a defense that went five straight weeks without allowing an opponent to eclipse the 400 yard mark and has now allowed three straight in that department.
The Michigan Wolverines on the other hand are a team that seem to be finding their groove on offense a bit. They've exploded the past few weeks putting up big numbers, albeit against lesser talent.
The Wolverines are flying high as they come to Iowa City ranked in the top five and undefeated at 9-0. If Iowa is going to pull off an upset it's going to start on the defensive side of the football.
So, Iowa holds Michigan under 500 total yards of offense, fact or fiction?
Fact. I think it will be a bit shy of 500. Michigan's offense is more similar to that of Minnesota or Wisconsin where it's not necessarily a spread team that tries to get their skill players in space. They do it a little bit with guys like Jabrill Peppers and Chris Evans but not nearly as much as Iowa opponents Penn State, Northwestern, Rutgers and Iowa State.
But against those teams Minnesota and Wisconsin, that's when Iowa performed their best on defense. They held Wisconsin to 17 despite the offense being backed up all game and not sustaining drives. They held Minnesota to 7 and won the game. However, against the more spread teams they surrendered 38 to Northwestern and 41 to Penn State. They fared well against Rutgers and Iowa State because those teams were far behind in player development and execution.
Michigan is more like Minnesota and Wisconsin. I don't expect the Hawkeyes to hold them under 20 but I do think they prevent them from gutting them the way Northwestern and Penn State were able to. I think the defense responds in that atmosphere on Kinnick Saturday night. It's a defense that isn't as bad as they appear but are just dealt impossible circumstances by the offense each week. I think they overcome that slightly Saturday night. They'll hold Michigan a touch under 500 yards and under 40 points in my opinion.
I'll be going a different direction from Derek and say Fiction. I don't see the Hawkeyes giving up 600 yards, but I do see 500 yards for a couple of different reasons.
One is that Michigan's offense is absolutely oozing confidence right now. Wilton Speight is in the zone and he has talented receivers to throw to. They've got a host of running backs they can throw at you and their offensive line has been stout. They've totaled 500 yards or more in 3 of their last 4 games and in two of those games they went over 600.
Now, it has been against the likes of Rutgers, Illinois, and Maryland, but if we're looking at averages of total yards given up per game Iowa is allowing 402 which isn't that far off from teams like Illinois and Maryland.
The second reason I have is because Iowa's defense spends so much time on the field. The offense has been extremely difficult to watch as it has become lackluster and extremely predictable. It doesn't feel as though the Hawkeye offense will be able to sustain many lengthy drives against this Michigan defense. That means the defense is out of there for a longer period of time and is likely completely whipped by the middle of the third quarter.
While I share Derek's concern that Michigan is more like Wisconsin and Minnesota on offense, the Wolverines are a different animal compared to those two. They rank second in the Big Ten in total yards per game whereas Minnesota and Wisconsin are in the middle trending towards the bottom of the conference in that category.