Iowa-Michigan Preview

Every two years, when Michigan comes to town, it's the biggest game of that season for the Iowa fans. Of that I am convinced. This is that week for the Hawkeye faithful, and Kinnick Stadium will be awash in black for the game on Saturday. When you look at the statistics that each team has compiled thus far on the year, it's a dead heat.

However, Michigan has played a much more demanding schedule. Some pundits believe their schedule has been the second most difficult to date in the country.

Iowa is 39th in total offense while Michigan is 47. The Wolverines are putting up fewer than 400 yards per contest this year, a bit of a surprise when most people felt their offense would be a powerhouse this season.

They are still a very dangerous team capable of scoring from any position on the field, but the right side of their offensive line is where Iowa will need to attack. They lost Josh Long to a season ending injury early in the year and have not been solid on that side of the line since then.

Michigan is 34th in total defense while Iowa ranks 66th in that department. The Wolverines are 24th in passing efficiency defense. The Wolverines have some young players in the secondary due to injury, including true frosh Brandon Harrison, a player that Iowa wanted badly last year and lost out to when Harrison announced for Michigan over Iowa on ESPN News.

Kyle Schlicher has missed just one field goal this season while Michigan's Garrett Rivas is 12 of 17. He is just six of his last ten, including two misses in Michigan's three-point home loss to Minnesota.

BITS AND PIECES Iowa is tied for first in the Big Ten with two other teams (Penn State and Wisconsin) with a 3-1 record. Northwestern and Ohio State enter this week's play only a half game back.
• This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Iowa-Michigan game that the Hawkeyes won 12-10 in Kinnick Stadium. Iowa was ranked No. 1 in the nation, while Michigan was ranked No. 2. Iowa went on to the 1986 Rose Bowl.
• Iowa has out-scored its opponents 70-0 in the fi rst quarter in four home games this season.
• Michigan will be looking for its first two-game winning steak of the season.
• Iowa has scored 30-plus points in three consecutive games. Additionally, the Hawkeyes are averaging 41.6 ppg in their four home games this season.
• Michigan Head Coach Lloyd Carr has 99 career wins as a college head coach and will be looking for win No. 100 Saturday.
• Iowa QB Drew Tate has thrown for two touchdowns in all four home contests in 2005.
• Iowa's next victory will make it bowl eligible, while Michigan needs two more wins. Iowa has appeared in four consecutive bowl games, including three straight January bowl games.
• Michigan and Iowa have not played any common opponents yet this year.
• Saturday's game will be Iowa's second game against a ranked opponent; first against a ranked foe at home. The Hawkeyes played at then-ranked No. 8/9 Ohio State on Sept. 24.
• The Hawkeyes had a season-high five turnovers (3 fumbles and 2 interceptions) at Michigan last season.
• Sophomore WR Adrian Arrington is the only Michigan player from the state of Iowa (Cedar Rapids). The Hawkeyes do not have any Michigan natives on their roster.
• Michigan boasts the best turnover margin in the Big Ten (+6), while Iowa ranks ninth (-3).
• Michigan ranks 33rd nationally in kickoff returns (23.31), while Iowa ranks 117th (12.77).
• Iowa ranks first nationally in fewest penalties (2.86), while Michigan ranks ninth (4.57).

ROB HOWE'S PREDICTION: I would feel much better about this game had Michael Hart not hit the century mark against a tough Penn State defense last week. His ability to run hard and keep defenses honest really sets up Chad Henne and a talented group of receivers to do damage with play action. That said, I think Iowa is playing its best football of the season and Kinnick will be rocking. The Hawkeyes should be able to run the ball with Albert Young to set up their play action. Ed Hinkel's replacements must step up, and I think they will. This could be one of those final possession games, and the prices scalpers are getting for tickets will be worth it: IOWA 27, MICHIGAN 24.

JON MILLER'S PREDICTION: This one will be a shootout. Plenty of offense, plenty of big plays, but in the end, I think special teams will tell the tale. Schlicher's leg is going to be big in this contest. He needs to kick the ball deep in the end zone to nullify Steve Breaston's return abilities. Andy Fenstermaker needs plenty of hang time to do the same on punts. I see Iowa calling a timeout with four seconds left in the game, the score knotted at 31 all. The line of scrimmage is the Michigan 12-yard line and the Wolverines then call two timeouts to ice Schlicher. Kyle kneels over the ball, the spot is at the 19, and Schlicher wins it at the final gun with a 29-yard field goal. IOWA 34, Michigan 31.

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