Iowa and Michigan have met 57 times on the football field with Michigan holding a 40-13-4 record over the Hawkeyes. Despite the past success, over the past three seasons Iowa has ruled the series. The 58th meeting is set to kickoff at 11:00 a.m. CT on ESPN.
Heading into the 2012 season this matchup looked to be a close and compelling game inside the Big Ten, now it appears that the Wolverines will end the losing streak with ease this Saturday.
Looking ahead to the Big Ten showdown in the Big House, here are the five reasons that the Wolverines will handle the Hawkeyes with ease this weekend.
The Michigan defense has continued the dramatic improvement in Ann Arbor under Brady Hoke. The Wolverines were near the bottom of the country during the 2010 season; since then, the Wolverines are now in the Top 15.
This season, Michigan is ranked the No. 11 total defense and the No. 1 pass defense in the country. The Iowa offense is already having problems this season, but their issues just got worse.
With the way that Michigan is playing on defense, the Hawkeyes won’t score many points in this game. The Wolverines will bottle up the Iowa ground and air attack consistently, forcing the Hawkeyes to rely on the big play to create points.
James Vandenberg was expected to be one of the elite signal callers in the Big Ten heading into this season. Instead, his senior season has been a major disappointment.
Vandenberg is only completing 56.9 percent of his passes, tossing for 1,976 yards so far this season. He has also thrown five touchdowns, but six interceptions cast a shadow over the scores.
He will face the No. 1 pass defense in the country on Saturday, continuing his struggles for the 2012 season. The Michigan secondary will be planning a party in the Big House at the expense of the Hawkeyes quarterback.
There have only been two games so far this season, with multiple interceptions from Vandenberg, with this game likely finishing as his third.
As the season draws to a close, the Wolverines are only a one-loss Big Ten team. That one defeat did come to Legends Division leading Nebraska, but both have a Big Ten loss this year.
The Wolverines have an outside shot at sneaking into the Big Ten title game if Nebraska loses one of its two final games. While the scenario isn’t a perfect one, it is one worth fighting for if you are Michigan.
Any reason for this game to carry an added edge for the Wolverines is a negative for Iowa. As Michigan pushes for a share of the Big Ten Legends Division, Iowa stands in its way. The Wolverines won’t drop four in a row.
The Wolverines may be without starting quarterback Denard Robinson again this week as they face the Iowa Hawkeyes at home. Robinson is day-to-day with an elbow injury. Without Robinson, the Wolverines will put Devin Gardner under center.
Gardner is a Wolverine that has seen time all over the field this fall. He started his career as a quarterback for Michigan before moving to wide receiver prior to the 2011 season.
This year Robinson has battled through numerous injuries, forcing the Wolverines to bring Gardner back into commission at the quarterback position. Gardner has answered the call, passing for 234 yards against Minnesota and 286 against Northwestern.
Gardner also added 68 rushing yards and three touchdowns during those two games.
While the Wolverines may be missing starting quarterback Robinson, they don’t appear to be missing a beat with Gardner calling the shots. In fact, the passing game looks more effective than with Robinson calling the shots.
Iowa will have its hands full this weekend with Gardner. The backup is playing better than the starter.
When breaking down rivalry-type games, the team with the momentum for the season usually comes out on top. That sounds cliché, but it is pure trendy truth in football.
Right now, the Wolverines have the clear advantage in the game as the Hawkeyes are in a tail spin. Head coach Kirk Ferentz is beginning to hear calls for his job in Iowa City as the Hawkeyes are hitting a downward skid.
Taking a look at Ferentz’s record with Iowa, the past eight seasons have been mediocre—save the 11-win 2009 season.
This will be his worst season with the Hawkeyes since 2000, when his Iowa team went 3-9. Fans of the black and yellow are not willing to sit by and watch this team lose much longer. A loss to Michigan will be disastrous for this season and Ferentz’s future.
With the mounting pressure, this is setting up to be a big loss for the Hawkeyes on the road.