No. 21 Michigan (7-3, 5-1) will host Iowa (4-6, 2-4) on Saturday as the Wolverines battle to stay relevant in the race for the Big Ten title.
On the surface, it would appear the the Wolverines will not have too many problems with Iowa. The Hawkeyes have lost four straight.
However, the last two losses have come by just three points each.
There is also the little fact that Iowa has won the last three meetings between these two, which included a 24-16 upset last year when Michigan was ranked No. 13 heading into the game.
Where: Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan
When: Saturday, November 17 at 12 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line: According to Bovada and Bet Online on Nov. 13 the betting line was not available
Who Might Not Play for Iowa
*Injury information according to USA Today on Nov. 13. Click the link for updated info.
Questionable: Brad Rogers, FB (undisclosed), Mark Weisman, FB (hip),
Out: Riley McMinn DE (undisclosed), Brandon Scherff OL (leg), Andrew Donnal, OL (knee), Barkley Hill, RB (knee), Ruben Lile, DB (knee)
Who Might Not Play for Michigan
*Injury information according to the USA Today on Nov. 13. Click the link for updated info.
Questionable: Ricardo Miller, WR (personal), Denard Robinson QB (elbow)
Doubtful: Russell Bellomy QB (undisclosed)
Out: Nathan Brink, DT (undisclosed), Blake Countess, DB (knee), Kaleb Ringer, LB (knee), Chris Wormley, DE (knee), Chris Bryant, OL (shin), Antonio Poole, LB (pectoral)
Key Storyline: Michigan's QB situation
Denard Robinson has missed the last two-plus games for the Wolverines, but this offense has not missed a beat.
It has put up 73 points combined from their last two games, which is noticeably better than its 29.7 scoring average on the season.
Devin Garder has been excellent while filling in for the injured Robinson and he won Big Ten co-Offensive Player of the Week honors for his 286-yard, two touchdown and one interception performance last week against Northwestern. He also rushed for 47 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries.
While all indications point to the starting job being Robinson's when he returns, Gardner's play certainly allows Michigan to be more patient with Robinson's recovery.
What They're Saying
The Detroit Free Press's Mark Snyder gives us the latest on the playing status of Robinson.
Injured Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson remains “day-to-day,” coach Brady Hoke said today.
Robinson was injured late in the first half of U-M’s loss at Nebraska on Oct. 27 and has not returned since, missing the past 2 1/2 games. Devin Gardner has two straight wins in his place.
With his senior class’ final home game Saturday against Iowa, Robinson’s absence could be striking.
Hoke said the emotion of the day won't have any bearing on whether Robinson will play. “That won’t have anything to do with it,” Hoke said. “His health is what it will have to do with.”
Iowa Player to Watch: James Vandenberg, QB
Senior quarterback James Vandenberg has had an up-and-down season. For the year, he has passer rating of 107.2 after throwing just five touchdowns to six interceptions.
He has been holding steady on this pace as he has three touchdown passes against four interceptions over his last five games.
Iowa will need him to be better if they are going to compete in this one.
Michigan Player to Watch: Whoever Starts at QB
As you've probable gleaned by now, the Michigan quarterback situation is the key story of this game.
The Wolverines are in the enviable situation of having two quarterbacks who have proven they can get the job done, and they do it with different styles. Robinson is more of a runner and Gardner relies more on his arm.
If Robinson does start, he will now do so with the pressure of having a hot backup quarterback behind him.
Prediction: Michigan 27, Iowa 13
Iowa's recent dominance over Michigan will come to an end this Saturday. The Hawkeyes are just 104th in the nation in scoring, and Michigan is 17th in points allowed.
While Michigan's defense struggled a bit last week, it made the plays late when it needed, and I expect that D to turn in a dominant effort this week.