HN.com's Iowa-Michigan Preview/Prediction

The HN.com Crystal Ball has a crack in it. That's because it was thrown against the wall midway through the second quarter of last week's Hawkeye loss at Arizona State. It's not because the ball isn't working; so far, it's three for three on the season and 36-5 in Hawkeye game week predictions over the last three-plus seasons. But it was the only thing that had not been flung across the room at the time. What does it say about Iowa @ Michigan? Read and find out...

Michigan's National Stat Rankings | Iowa's National Stat Rankings
Ann Arbor Hour By Hour Forecast for Saturday | Last Week's HN.com Prediction

Has this been a long week, or what? Longer than Square Dancing week in grade school P.E. Longer than the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. Longer than the flight home from Tempe for the Iowa Hawkeyes early Sunday morning.

But the beauty of football is that there is little time to wallow in the mire, lest your season become a funeral pyre. Yup, the Hawks had the Roadhouse Blues. But it won't be The End. (Just curious as to how many references to The Doors I could work in there. Have always wanted to do that.).

Here is to hoping that Iowa does not experience any sort of hangover effect after suffering their demoralizing 44-7 loss to ASU.

Right about now, you would have loved a home game against Illinois, wouldn't you? But alas, the schedule says Michigan, in Ann Arbor.

RED LETTER GAME, PART II

It was in this space last week where I said that the Sun Devils had circled the Iowa game on their calendars as a day of atonement for their football program.

While Michigan-Notre Dame, Michigan-Ohio State or Michigan-Michigan State are all likely bigger games for the Maize and Blue, don't think that the Wolverines haven't been pointing to September 25th, 2004, for some time now.

The Hawkeyes own a two-game win streak over Big Blue, including taking Michigan to the woodshed in Ann Arbor two years ago to the tune of 34-9. Michigan was held to just 20 rushing attempts, a Michigan Stadium record low, and gained just 22 rushing yards. They had but two first downs via the ground against Iowa on that day as the Hawkeyes laid claim to the nickname ‘The Bullies of the Big Ten'.

Then came last year in Iowa City, where Michigan jumped out to an early 14-0 lead and later led 20-7 before the Hawkeyes fought back, capitalizing on special teams and just enough offense to win the game 30-27.

If you want to go back further, Michigan certainly couldn't brag about beating the 2001 Hawkeyes in Kinnick, after falling behind 21-7 in that game and needing a catch of the year by Marquis Walker and a blocked punt for a touchdown to beat Iowa by six points.

The truth of the matter is simple; Iowa has been a thorn in the side of the Wolverines for quite some time now.

As we have said over and over in recent weeks and months, Iowa is now the hunted. They are getting a taste of what it is like to be a Michigan or an Ohio State; where every game you play, your opponent is gunning for you. Welcome to the Big Time, Iowa.

NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME?

In the off season, several experts and/or talking heads felt that this would be the biggest game on the college football calendar for this weekend. Many felt that both teams could be unbeaten and ranked in the top 10 prior to kickoff.

However, Michigan lost at Notre Dame and played sluggishly against San Diego State and home last week, and ASU blew through the Hawkeye defense like straight line winds through West Branch Mobile Home Village. (Trust me, having lived through both events, they are analogous.)

Michigan and Iowa's rushing offenses are ranked 94th and 80th in the nation, ‘disrespectively' if you will. They are 96th and 99th in total offense. Both programs have a history of pounding the ball on the ground, and both are struggling in that area.

Though not as bad, Michigan and Iowa rank 33rd and 25th in total defense, beneath each program's recent lofty standards. Michigan no longer uses the Rugby Punt formation, they rank 114th in the nation in net punting.

Hide the women and children, folks, because this game might not be pretty.

THEY'RE GREEN

Michigan has the best WR corps in the country, but a true freshman in Chad Henne throwing to them. They have several veterans on the offensive line, but they have not dominated the line of scrimmage and were sparked by true freshman RB Michael Hart last week.

Iowa starts a second year QB who will be making his first ever road start in a Big Ten venue. While the Big House is not among the three or four most difficult places to play in the league with regards to crowd noise, it might be the most awesome sight to behold. They don't call it the Big House for nothing, and that will have to have a humbling effect on Iowa's youngsters.

Iowa will start a different player at right guard for the third time in four games, as converted TE Ben Gates will make the first start of his career.

10 of Iowa's 11 starters on offense will be making their first career start at Michigan while seven of them will be making their first career Big Ten start.

That is not great news for a team that is still looking to establish any kind of running attack, which means that Michigan will probably bring several blitz looks against Iowa. Go figure.

THE DIGITS

10-37-4: Iowa's all time record against Michigan
6: Number of those wins that have come in Ann Arbor
(I)24.6-21.6(M): Average of Iowa-Michigan score in last five games
(I)114-53(M): Average rushing yards per team last three meetings
5-9.5, 178.5: Average height/weight of Iowa's cornerbacks
6-1.5, 195 : Average height/weight of Michigan's wide receiver trio
3-2: Michigan coach Lloyd Carr's record against Iowa
2-1: Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz's record against Michigan
5/5: TD's/INT's thrown by Michigan QB Chad Henne in 2004
50 & 26: 50 completed passes in '04 by Henne, 26 of them to Braylon Edwards
22: Number of consecutive Big Ten openers won by Michigan
4-6-4 Iowa v Michigan in games decided by three points or less
10-0: Michigan's record against Iowa in B10 conference openers
12 straight: Number of consecutive home wins by Michigan. Last loss: Iowa, 2002.

HN.COM PUBLISHER JON MILLER'S IOWA-MICHIGAN PREDICTION

Though I picked Iowa to lose at Arizona State both in my pick last week and my preseason pick, no one expected to see the kind of beating that took place. Its weeks like this that Iowa fans should be grateful that Kirk Ferentz is their head coach. He took responsibility for the loss and was even playful with reporters on Tuesday in a self-deprecating sense.

The most important thing to look for in this game is to see if Iowa can regain their toughness that was stripped of them in Tempe. You don't get to be the Bullies of the Big Ten because it says so on a t-shirt. You either are, or your are not. It's about heart, and that is the one thing that Iowa fans should look for this week.

I felt Michigan would win this game in the preseason, and I feel that way now. If they lose, Iowa will suffer its first back-to-back losses since 10/27 and 11/3, 2001 (Michigan &Wisconsin, each game by six points).

MICHIGAN 26, Iowa 10

IN SEASON GAME BY GAME PREDICTIONS

Week One: Iowa 48, Kent State 10 (Iowa 39, Kent State 7, actual score)
Week Two: Iowa 24, Iowa State 6 (Iowa 17, Iowa State 10, actual score)
Week Three: Arizona State 23, Iowa 17 (ASU 44, Iowa 7, actual score)

Jon's Game Week predictions since the start of the 2001 season: 36-5 (losses: 2001: Iowa State & Michigan; 2002: USC; 2003: Michigan State & Ohio State

Listen to Jon Miller & Jim Zabel, the legendary Voice of the Hawkeyes, after the game on 1040, WHO. The show will begin approximately an hour after the game ends and we will break down the Saturday games as well as take your phone calls for three hours.


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