Michigan Football: Wolverines Will Crush Iowa to Keep Big Ten Hopes Alive

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistNovember 16, 2012

ANN ARBOR, MI - OCTOBER 20:  Fitzgerald Toussaint #28 of the Michigan Wolverines runs for a first down as Isaigh Lewis #9 of the Michigan State Spartans attemps to make the stop during the game at Michigan Stadium on October 20, 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Spartans 12-10.  (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images

Senior day is always a special event at Michigan Stadium. Throw in the fact the Wolverines are still battling for a spot in the Big Ten Championship Game and the "Big House" should be rocking on Saturday. The team will give fans plenty to cheer about.

Michigan still faces an uphill battle to win the Legends Division, mostly because it needs either Minnesota or Iowa, the Wolverines' opponent on Saturday, to knock off Nebraska. However, a victory over the Hawkeyes will at least keep them alive.

One good thing from Michigan's perspective is having the earlier kickoff. If it can score a convincing win over Iowa, it will add some pressure on the shoulders of Nebraska heading into their game. Every little bit helps at this point in the season.

The Wolverines should be able to accomplish that goal. They hold an edge over Iowa on both sides of the ball, especially on offense due to the strong play of Devin Gardner, and should have little trouble cruising to victory.

Michigan fans have probably spent a lot of time over the past couple of weeks wondering what would have happened if Gardner would have started from Day 1. He has handled the offense really well since taking the reins from Denard Robinson.

Even though Robinson's playmaking abilities make him exciting to watch, his lack of accuracy often led to some extended droughts for the Michigan offense. Strong defenses of teams like Alabama and Notre Dame were able to capitalize on that.

Gardner has brought a little more balance to the equation, albeit against lesser competition, over the past few games. Expect him to have another strong performance against an Iowa defense that ranks near the bottom of the conference in passing yards allowed.

Add in Fitzgerald Toussaint, who has looked a lot more comfortable in recent weeks after some early struggles, and the Michigan offense should be off to the races pretty quickly. It should be one of the unit's most complete performances of the season.

On defense, the key is slowing down Damon Bullock. Purdue was able to hold the Hawkeyes' running back below two yards per carry last week and it forced Iowa to become a one-dimensional offense.

That puts a lot of heat on James Vandenberg, who has just five touchdown passes this season after putting up 25 last season. Michigan's potent defensive line should be able to ensure he can't stand tall in the pocket to rediscover last season's magic.

No matter what angle you examine the game from, Michigan has the advantage. The Wolverines will capitalize and stay alive for another week in the Big Ten.

Prediction: Michigan 34, Iowa 13