Saturday afternoon, the Iowa Hawkeyes (4-6) will be looking to make it four in a row over the No. 21 Michigan Wolverines (7-3) in a game that could have far-reaching implications in both the Big Ten and the BCS.
A loss here would prove to be disastrous for the Wolverines, who sit tied with No. 14 Nebraska at 5-1 atop the Big Ten's Legends Division and hope to advance to the Big Ten Championship Game.
The Hawkeyes are suffering through a down year, but they have had the Wolverines' number as of late, having beaten the Wolverines in each of their last three meetings, including a 38-28 victory in the Big House back in 2010.
Emotions will be on high, as it's senior day for the Wolverines, and their most important—and popular—senior, QB Denard Robinson, remains questionable for the game.
Let's take a look at the latest news heading into this Big Ten matchup.
When: Saturday, Nov. 17 at 12:00 p.m. ET
Where: Michigan Stadium, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Live Stream: Big Ten Digital Network
Radio: WWJ 950 AM (Michigan), WHO 1040 AM (Iowa)
Spread: Michigan -20 (Via VegasInsider)
Between Iowa's recent history against Michigan and the fact that the Hawkeyes defense ranks 29th in the country in scoring defense, allowing only 22 points per game—3.8 points more than Michigan's defense allows—this one's going to be much closer than the spread would lead you to believe.
No over/under has been listed as of November 15 on Bovada.lv, Covers.com or VegasInsider.com.
Who Might Not Play for Iowa (via USA Today)
FB Brad Rogers (Undisclosed): Questionable
FB Mark Weisman (Hip): Questionable
DE Riley McMinn (Undisclosed): Out Indefinitely
Who Might Not Play for Michigan (via USA Today)
WR Ricardo Miller (Personal): Questionable
QB Denard Robinson (Elbow): Questionable
QB Russell Bellomy (Undisclosed): Doubtful
DT Nathan Brink (Undisclosed): Out
A win by Michigan keeps them alive to play in the Big Ten Championship Game, and with both Ohio State and Penn State ineligible for postseason play, their opponent would be an unranked Wisconsin team that they would be favored to beat.
ESPN currently projects Nebraska to win the Big Ten Championship and face Notre Dame in the Rose Bowl, while they've got Michigan taking on either Florida or Texas A&M in the Capital One Bowl.
Michigan obviously prefers to play in a BCS bowl game, but a loss to Iowa ends any chance of that happening.
Iowa's playing for pride and to perhaps impress some potential recruits by walking into the Big House and beating the Wolverines.
Keys For Iowa Victory
This is a tall order for the Hawkeyes, with an offense that is among the least potent in the country.
Iowa ranks 96th in passing yards (197.6 per game), 101st in rushing yards (124 per game) and 104th in putting points on the board (20.8 per game)—and they'll be facing off with a Wolverines defense that allows 18.2 points per game, 16th fewest in the nation.
What they do have is a strong defense, one that allows only 22 points per game, 29th in the country.
If they are able to contain whoever starts under center for Michigan, Iowa can keep this close and hope to pull off the upset. But their defense will need to be at the top of their game in order for that to happen.
Keys For Michigan Victory
Talent-wise, Iowa really can't hang with the Wolverines.
Michigan needs to get out on Iowa early and keep the pressure on, not allowing their emotions to get the better of them.
Assuming that it's Devin Gardner who gets the call under center, he needs to make sure that he takes care of the ball. While he's played well in place of Robinson, throwing two touchdown passes in each of the past two games, he's also tossed a pick in each game as well.
Limiting turnovers will be key to the Wolverines finding success.
This has trap game written all over it for the Wolverines, who take on Ohio State on the road next week. Looking past a Hawkeyes team having a down season is a mistake that they cannot make.
Prediction: Michigan 31, Iowa 17
Michigan's defense is going to be fired up for this one, led by senior defensive end Craig Roh, who told reporters that his only focus this week is taking down Iowa:
"I myself have not beaten Iowa yet and I know just for selfish reasons, it would be a huge motivation for me. I never want to go not beating a team in my career, and that's something that we control."
Iowa's starting QB, James Vandenberg, has been sacked 13 times in his past five games.
That number is sure to go up in his sixth game of the streak, and Michigan will pull away late.
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