Michigan Wolverines vs. Iowa Hawkeyes: Complete Game Preview

Phil Callihan@umgoblogContributor INovember 20, 2013

Michigan Wolverines vs. Iowa Hawkeyes: Complete Game Preview

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    #27 Derrick Green
    #27 Derrick GreenDavid Banks-USA TODAY Sports

    Michigan was seconds away from a three-game losing streak last week, but Brendan Gibbons' 26-yard field goal with two seconds left in regulation extended the game to overtime against Northwestern. It took three overtimes, but Michigan came away with a 27-19 victory.

    On Saturday, Iowa (6-4, 3-3 Big Ten) hosts Michigan (7-3, 3-3) on Senior Day after a bye last week. Iowa’s last game was a 38-14 victory over Purdue.

    Date: Saturday, Nov. 23

    Time: 12 p.m. ET/11 a.m. CT

    Place: Kinnick Stadium (70,585), Iowa City, Iowa

    Series vs. Iowa: U-M leads, 41-13-4

    Television: BTN

    Radio: Michigan IMG Sports Network

    Spread: Iowa by 6.5, via TheSpread.com

    Live Stats: MGoBlue.com

    Last Meeting vs. Iowa: Michigan 42, Iowa 17 (Nov. 17, 2012)

    Behind a six-touchdown performance (three pass, three rush) from junior quarterback Devin Gardner, U-M defeated the Iowa Hawkeyes, 42-17, on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2012, in front of 113,016 fans on Senior Day at Michigan Stadium. Gardner threw for a career-high 314 yards and three scores while also adding 37 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He became the first Michigan quarterback to account for six touchdowns in a game since Steve Smith accomplished the feat in 1983.

    *Information according to University of Michigan Wolverines game notes.

Video Preview

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    Last season, quarterback Devin Gardner torched Iowa for six touchdowns (three passing, three rushing) and 314 passing yards, leading Michigan to a 42-17 victory on Senior Day at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan Keys to Victory

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    #98 Devin Gardner and #77 Taylor Lewan
    #98 Devin Gardner and #77 Taylor LewanMatthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

    Michigan has stumbled on the road this season. It can't afford a similar performance against the Hawkeyes. Iowa will be looking to send its seniors out with a victory. If Michigan gets down early, things could get ugly. 

    Keep running the ball

    Michigan's offense struggled to score against Northwestern—at least until overtime—but there were positive signs. Michigan found its running attack with freshman Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith leading the way.

    When Michigan can run the ball, the pressure eases on quarterback Devin Gardner and the offense shifts into high gear.

    Avoid turnovers

    Gardner nearly threw the game away against Northwestern, giving Wildcats defenders numerous opportunities to make interceptions, but they were unable make plays.

    Iowa has the ninth-ranked defense in the country. The Hawkeyes will make plays if given the opportunity, so Michigan needs to avoid early turnovers.

Iowa Keys to Victory

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    Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Contain and pressure Devin Gardner

    Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said on Hawkcentral.com that the defensive line is his most-improved positional group. Iowa already has 17 sacks after only collecting 10 last season.

    This week should be an opportunity to add to that total, Michigan has surrendered 19 sacks in its last three games and Gardner narrowly avoided throwing several interceptions last week, if Iowa can pressure Gardner—like every other team has this season—there will be opportunities for turnovers.

    Run the ball

    The Michigan defense has been susceptible to the opponents' running games this season. If Iowa can force turnovers and take the lead, it can control the clock with its running game.

    Iowa’s goal is to make Michigan play from behind and make Gardner take chances to move the ball.

Michigan Players to Watch

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    #30 Thomas Gordon
    #30 Thomas GordonDavid Banks-USA TODAY Sports

    Defensive safety Thomas Gordon

    Gordon had a breakout game with seven tackles and an interception against Northwestern. With Iowa expected to pass the ball, he will have another opportunity to shine in this game.

    Running back

    Fitzgerald Toussaint couldn't play last week after suffering a concussion in practice. He’s ready to return, but in his absence, freshman Derrick Green and De’Veon Smith filled in admirably. Coach Brady Hoke has a choice to make: stick with the senior Toussaint or play the hot hand with Green and Smith. Expect Toussaint to start, but if he doesn’t get something going on the ground early, Green and Smith will be ready to step in.

    Quarterback Devin Gardner

    As Gardner goes, so goes the Michigan offense. When he gets in a groove, he’s a great quarterback. Unfortunately, he’s been sacked 19 times in the last three games and has taken a beating. He seemed to get his swagger back in overtime against Northwestern, but he’ll need it again this week, and especially next week versus Ohio State.

Iowa Players to Watch

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    #45 Mark Weisman
    #45 Mark WeismanMatthew Holst/Getty Images

    Running backs Mark Weisman and Jordan Canzeri

    Weisman leads the team with 777 yards rushing the season. Add Canzeri to the mix, who rushed for 165 yards with a touchdown against Purdue, and Iowa has two options to run the ball against Michigan.

    Quarterback Jake Rudock

    Rudock (167-of-279, 1,916 yards, 14 touchdowns) leads the Iowa offense. Michigan's secondary has been vulnerable this season, and if the Iowa offensive line can give him time, Rudock will have opportunities.

    Linebackers James Morris, Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens

    All three played as true freshmen and are playing their last game at Kinnick Stadium. There’s no way they want to lose that one. Hitchens leads Iowa with 87 tackles while Morris is close behind with 81 and Kirksey has 80. Look for Iowa to send them after Devin Gardner when they're not bottling up the Michigan running game,

What They Are Saying

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    #77 Taylor Lewan
    #77 Taylor LewanRick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

    Michigan's Taylor Lewan on Iowa's pink visitors locker room, via Mgoblue.com:

    It's soothing. It's nice. It keeps it mellow. It's a light pink, not a dark pink or anything like that. Every away locker room that we visit has its own little quirks. Michigan State has a smiley face when you walk down, and Iowa has pink locker rooms. The game is not played in the locker room. If it was it would be a very calm and soothing game.

    Michigan's Lewan on Iowa fans, via Hawkcentral.com:

    They’re pretty educated. They know my name. They know my parents’names. They know my brother’s name. It’s always nice to get a little chirp here and there from the fans.

    Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, via Hawkcentral.com:

    The one thing that doesn’t change when you play Michigan is they have a lot of talented players. They’re very well coached and it’s going to be a tough, tough matchup for us.

    Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz on Senior Day, via the Detroit Free Press:

    It’s a bittersweet day for everyone involved…There’s no right answer. If you win, I guess the emotions are good. If you don’t win, it’s the other way around. It really comes down to what we make if it.


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    Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

    The scarlet and gray Death Star from Columbus, Ohio, is looming on the horizon, but Michigan needs to forget Ohio State for the moment, and stay focused on Iowa.

    Look for Michigan’s revived running game to provide opportunities for quarterback Devin Gardner to get the Wolverines' passing attack going. 

    Score: Michigan 27, Iowa 21