Iowa's bye week allowed it extra time to prepare for Michigan, and it will be interesting to see what happens when the Hawkeyes' stellar defense matches up with Wolverines' sensation, quarterback Denard Robinson.
Iowa hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown all season entering this Saturday's visit to Michigan in a key Big Ten contest. That stat figures to be tested by the multi-faceted Robinson, who has rushed for nine touchdowns while tormenting opposing defenses.
Robinson ranks second in the nation in rushing (165.2 yards per game) and has failed to reach 100 yards in just one contest -- Michigan's 34-17 loss last Saturday to Michigan State. Robinson rushed for 86 yards against the Spartans.
But for No. 15 Iowa (4-1, 1-0) to remain unbeaten in Big Ten play, it needs to at least keep Robinson from having a field day. Robinson has rushed for 197 or more yards three times and topped 200 yards passing on four occasions.
Michigan (5-1, 1-1) will be desperate for a victory to remain in contention for the regular-season crown so it figures to pull out of the stops with Robinson's versatility.
"He's a very dynamic football player, very explosive player, and with that offense they give you, it presents an awful lot of challenges," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "They try to spread the field and basically have an extra man on the field because they've got a guy that can not only throw it, but he can run the ball. He's very dangerous."
On the flip side, Iowa's defense will be a challenge for Michigan to solve, too. The Hawkeyes have allowed seven points or fewer in four of their five games and have allowed a total of three points over the last two games -- one being a convincing victory over Penn State.
--WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos enters the game just 66 yards shy of Iowa's career receiving-yardage mark held by Tim Dwight. Johnson-Koulianos has 2,205 career yards.
--Iowa's defense has been superb. The Hawkeyes lead the nation in scoring defense (10.2 points per game), rank second in rushing defense (63.2 yards per game) and fourth in total defense (242.2).
SERIES HISTORY: Michigan leads 40-11-4 (last meeting, 2009, 30-28 Iowa).
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: Quarterback Ricky Stanzi is completing 67.8 percent of his passes and has 10 touchdowns against just two interceptions as the Hawkeyes have averaged 33.6 points per game. Big plays in the passing game to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (21 receptions) and Marvin McNutt (18.3 average per catch) could be plentiful with Michigan giving up 304.3 passing yards per game. Adam Robinson (480 rushing yards, six touchdowns) has been impressive while carrying the load on the ground. Robinson has topped 100 yards rushing three times.
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Iowa's defense has lived up to its preseason billing and hasn't allowed a touchdown in the past two games. The defensive front paced by Adrian Clayborn, Christian Ballard and Mike Daniels (team-high eight tackles for loss) has been solid, and the secondary led by safeties Tyler Sash and Brett Greenwood has been terrific. Middle linebacker Jeff Tarpinian has been plagued by injuries and isn't expected to play against the Wolverines. Troy Johnson returns from his own injury to get most of the playing time. Outside linebacker Jeremiha Hunter (second on the squad with 29 tackles) plays steady if not spectacular football.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Traditionally, they've had a great program and we're going up to play a 5-1 team that we had our work cut out last year and we're fortunate to win that football game. It's going to be a heck of a football game. I think all our conference games are going to be that way." -- Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz on the challenge of playing perennial Big Ten power Michigan.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
THIS WEEK'S GAME: Iowa at Michigan, Oct. 16 -- The Hawkeyes traditionally struggle in Ann Arbor, having gone 6-24-3 in 33 visits. Iowa's last win at Michigan was in 2002. Overall, the schools have split the last six games after Iowa lost the previous seven contests.
KEYS TO THE GAME: Limiting the damage performed by Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson is the biggest factor for Iowa's defense, which was been rock-solid sturdy in four of five games, save for some rough moments against Arizona. Robinson throws (1,223 yards) and runs (991) well and reminds Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz of former Indiana quarterback Antwaan Randle-El (1998-2001). Iowa should be able to put points on the board against Michigan's erratic defense so if the Hawkeyes play the type of defense they have played most of the season, they have a solid chance of prevailing against the Wolverines for the second straight season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
QB Ricky Stanzi -- The solid games keep occurring for the signal caller who ranks third nationally in passing efficiency. Avoiding mistakes will again be a key against Wolverines.
DE Adrian Clayborn - He played like a superstar and high NFL draft pick against Penn State two Saturdays ago with 10 tackles and a sack. He'll be important in terms of containing the edge against Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.
S Brett Greenwood - Greenwood, who will be making his 38th career start, nabbed one of his eight career interceptions in the final minute of last year's matchup as Robinson was trying to engineer a late-game comeback.
--Senior MLB Jeff Tarpinian (neck stinger) is in danger of missing the Michigan contest.
--Senior MLB Troy Johnson (concussion) is expected back and will start in place of Tarpinian.
--Defensive coordinator Norm Parker remains away from the team after recently having his right foot amputated due to diabetes complications.
The TSX Files: Iowa Midweek
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