Can Michigan respond in hostile territory this Saturday night? Traveling to Kinnick Stadium for a night game, a black out, and homecoming, it seems the Wolverines will have their backs against the wall.
They just lost a rivalry game in which they played like a junior varsity team. The Spartans defense stood tall against the dangerous fleet of running backs they have. The Wolverines were held to 28 yards on the ground and it will not get any easier this week.
The Hawkeyes rank sixth in rushing defense, allowing 122.2 yards a game. It will be another stiff test for this young Wolverines offense, at least it will be portrayed that way in the media.
One thing going for Michigan is that they're 3-1 against Iowa on homecoming there. The other thing is, Iowa is not as good as they think they are.
The same way people can say Michigan is few plays away from being 2-3, you can say the same thing about the Hawkeyes.
Yes, they beat Penn State, but who is Penn State? Another overrated Big Ten team; a fraud. They played down to the level of Illinois last week, finally running away from them in the second half.
Iowa has played Northern Iowa, a FCS school, and won by a point, 17-16. It took a field goal block to preserve the win. Is that a win that deserves a top 12 ranking?
The Hawkeyes played Arkansas State this past Saturday, won 24-21. Can someone tell me who Arkansas State is? Iowa dominated the stats, and won the time of possession battle, but only won the game by three points. What went wrong? Defensive miscues.
From hawkeyesports.com, "Iowa opponents are 9-10 in the red zone this season, with five FGs and three touchdowns." It also sounds like the kicking game also faltered, and the offense failed to capitalize on the ASU mistakes.
I'm not going to disparage the Hawkeyes, but they certainly don't deserve to be ranked 12th in the nation. Are they a Top 25 team? Yes. But not a Top 12 team.
Besides the three teams I've mentioned, the Hawkeyes have played Arizona at home and Iowa State on the road. Both games were wins, but is that a quality schedule that deserves a high ranking? No.
The Wolverines are ranked second in rushing offense in the Big Ten, but the defense is going to have to be vastly improved if they look to keep Iowa and Stanzi from beating them in the scoring department. Michigan is currently ranked ninth in total defense, allowing almost 400 yards a game and 13 touchdowns.
Michigan has its hands full, but what they'll have to do is establish the run. Iowa allowed 84 yards to an FCS school, so Michigan should be able to get its running game established. Iowa does have the third best defense in the conference though.
Carlos Brown and Brandon Minor will have to lead the rushing attack this week. Michigan can't have the QB's running more than them. It's unbalanced, and could lead to an unnecessary injury to their most important player, Tate Forcier.
The o-line will also have to block better and not let the defensive front get through so easily. It seemed that State's defense was just able to beat the o-line on every run play. That will have to be fixed for Michigan to succeed.
On the defensive side, Michigan should be able to contain Iowa. Iowa ranks ninth in total offense with just under 700 passing yards and 1113 rushing yards. Not a potent offense, and one that the Wolverines should handle. We'll have to wait and see if they decide to show up.
This just reiterates how overrated Iowa is. The numbers just don't put them in the top 12. They rank 74th overall in total offense in the FBS. The defense is ranked 32nd in the FBS. They beat a top five team and suddenly skyrocket in the polls to 13 (unranked the week before), and jump one more spot after the ASU win. As Lee Corso says, 'Not so fast.'
Iowa will have their hands full come Saturday night, but just how full is yet to be determined. This will be a test for both teams. Can Michigan expose Iowa, the way Iowa exposed Penn State as frauds?
Last week the Wolverines showed the world that they are capable of going three and out a number of times, keeping the rhythm off the field. If that's the case on Saturday night, Iowa could abuse a tired defense, but a certain QB may have something to say about that.
Tate Forcier is better than anyone has thought. He has shown us why Rodriguez wanted him so badly. He is young, but he has shown he has 'it.'
He looked exhausted on that last drive against State, like he just boxed 12 rounds; gasping for breath every moment he could. Forcier was masterful on that drive, doing things a freshman shouldn't be doing.
And than it came, his freshman moment. Squeezing a pass into a tight spot, a throw he never should have made. He sent a text to The Dash, Pat Forde, on ESPN, 90 minutes after the game, "I take complete fault for that loss."
That's exactly the kind of accountability you want from your QB, but it wasn't his fault. It was the entire offenses inability to get it going, the defenses lapse in stopping State on third and a miles. It was an entire team loss, but it shows us what he is; a leader.
He will head into his first night game at Kinnick Stadium, an underdog, sore, tired, and inspired to play the game of his life. On the national stage, 8pm, ABC, Tate Forcier will show the rest of the country why he is so beloved by Michigan students, alumni, and fans: his heart, which bleeds maize and blue.
Michigan will come into this game riding a four game winning streak at night, beating Illinois, 27-17, in 2007 at Champagne. That was their last night game played. They're 6-1 in their last seven games at night, dating back to 2002.
Will all this be enough to beat Iowa in a black out? We must wait for Saturday night to find out. What I can say, though, it has the makings to be a classic.