IOWA at MICHIGAN GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 3:30 ET
SITE: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
SERIES: Michigan leads 40-11-4 (last meeting, 2009, Iowa 30-28)
RECORDS: Iowa 4-1, 1-0; Michigan 5-1, 1-1
POLLS: Iowa (15 AP, 14 USA Today); Michigan (24 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Iowa 31-21
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. 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.
--The telling matchup when the Wolverines face Iowa will come up front, with Michigan on offense. The Michigan offensive linemen and tight ends will need to control Iowa's extremely talented defensive front, led by 6-foot-4, 285-pound DE Adrian Clayborn. If Iowa dominates this battle, it dominates the game.
SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
--Iowa QB 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 WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (21 receptions) and WR Marvin McNutt (18.3 average per catch) could be plentiful with Michigan giving up 304.3 passing yards per game. RB 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.
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 DE Adrian Clayborn, DT Christian Ballard and DT 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. LB Jeff Tarpinian has been plagued by injuries and isn't expected to play against the Wolverines. LB Troy Johnson returns from his own injury to get most of the playing time. LB Jeremiha Hunter (second on the squad with 29 tackles) plays steady if not spectacular football.
The Denard Robinson express was slowed, but not derailed, in Michigan's loss to Michigan State. The Wolverines will need more balance against the Hawkeyes, more throws to the tight end and more quick pass patterns. The protection has to give Robinson adequate time to avoid the mistakes he was pressed into last week. If the Iowa front gets its hands on him, Michigan won't like the results.
A thoroughly disgusted coach Rich Rodriguez has hinted that wholesale changes might be in store on defense for the Wolverines, who sport the Big Ten's worst defense. Iowa has a savvy veteran QB in Ricky Stanzi, and he could have a field day with the Michigan defense. Michigan has to get pressure on Stanzi, or it will face an abundance of headaches.
Hawkeyes: 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). ... Iowa and Michigan have split the last six meetings. ... The Hawkeyes have won 19 of their last 22 games and 21 of their last 25 dating back to the middle of the 2008 season. ... But the Hawkeyes are just 6-27 in 33 games against the Wolverines at Ann Arbor. ... SS Tyler Sash had six interceptions last year but is still looking for his first in 2010. CB Shaun Prater has Iowa's only pick this season. ... QB Ricky Stanzi has thrown 41 career scoring passes, fourth on Iowa's all-time list. ... DT Mike Daniels leads Iowa in tackles for loss (8-44) and sacks (3-25).
Wolverines: --QB Denard Robinson needs just 9 rushing yards to have 1,000 for the season. ...Coach Rich Rodriguez is 13-20 against ranked teams over the course of his career, but just 1-7 against the Top 25 while at Michigan. ... Rodriguez is 4-14 in Big Ten games in two-plus seasons with the Wolverines. ... Michigan quarterbacks are completing better than 70 percent of their passes through six games (70.3 pct., 104-of-148). ... The Wolverines have scored 16 touchdowns this season on drives that have lasted two minutes or less. Eight times Michigan put together scoring drives that took a minute or less. ... The Wolverines have scored on 88.5 percent of their opportunities in the red zone (23-of-26). Of the 23 scores once they have gotten inside an opponent's 20-yard-line, 21 have been touchdowns. The non-scores featured a missed field goal and two interceptions, both by Michigan State. ... The Wolverines have been penalized only 4.5 times per game, 11th fewest in the country.
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.
WR Roy Roundtree -- If the Wolverines want to take some of the offensive pressure off QB Denard Robinson, then Roundtree is the first option for relief. He had close to 100 receiving yards per game over the final four games of 2009, and this season is leading Michigan with 31 receptions for 385 yards and two touchdowns.
OL Stephen Schilling -- The Outland Trophy candidate is the plow that clears the way for QB Denard Robinson. Schilling has a team-leading 42 starts over the past four seasons, missing just one game in 2008 due to injury.
QB Denard Robinson -- The speedster from Florida is second in the nation with 165.7 yards rushing per game, and second in total offense with 369 yards per game. With the ball in his hands, every play is a potential home run.
LB Obi Ezeh -- As this senior leader goes, so go the Wolverines more often than not. He is the team's active career leader with 274 tackles, and he has recorded nine games in his career with 10 or more stops.
LB Jeff Tarpinian (neck stinger, questionable), LB Troy Johnson (concussion, probable).
WR Martavious Odoms (foot, out)
Iowa @ Michigan: TSX Game Snapshot/Prediction
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