Iowa Beats Michigan at Home and a Look at the Big Ten for Week 10

Deni Martin@@denimartinCorrespondent INovember 5, 2011

Iowa Beats Michigan at Home and a Look at the Big Ten for Week 10

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    Head coach Kirk Ferentz is the face of Iowa Hawkeye football.

    He is a successful Big Ten coach, who has frequently been on the shopping list when an NFL team owner goes looking for a new on-the-field leader. Ferentz has the best record of any Iowa coach against Michigan, but he's only "holding serve" at 4-4.

    I'll explain how Iowa is going to beat Michigan in the Big Ten College Football Game of the Week (CFGotW) and how Ferentz will improve to 5-4 in the next slide.

    Besides the Wolverines and Hawkeyes, there are four other teams battling for division titles as we look at the following in the Big Ten:

    • the Big Ten CFGotW
    • the Big Ten Player to Watch
    • the Chiller game
    • Snoozers (or at least I think they will be one-sided games)

    Illinois and Penn State have week No. 10 off as they prepare for their final three games of the regular season.

Big Ten CFGotW: Kinnick Stadium Will Be the 12th Man as Iowa Beats Michigan

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    Kinnick Stadium has never been kind to Big Ten teams from Michigan.

    The Hawkeyes have won two out of the last three meetings against Michigan on Iowa's home field.  The only loss was an overtime thriller in 2005, which Michigan won 23-20.

    Michigan State, who travels to Iowa City in a week 11 contest, was No. 5 in the nation, but were convincingly beaten by the No. 18 Iowa Hawkeyes 37-6 last year. Iowa beat them in double overtime, 34-27, at Kinnick Stadium in 2007.

    Plus, the 2011 edition of the Michigan Wolverines have played only two road games and split them with a win against Northwestern and a loss to Michigan State.

    I also believe Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz got the full attention of his team this week after their disappointing 22-21 loss to Minnesota last Saturday.  The defeat severely damaged the Hawkeyes' chances of competing for the Legends Division title and a berth to the Big Ten title game.

    Running back Marcus Coker (pictured) is another reason Iowa will win tomorrow.  He has quietly and consistently moved up the Big Ten rushing charts each week to take the No.1 position with a 121.1 yards-per-game average.

    Michigan's defense against the run is No. 9 in the conference, and the Wolverines also have to deal with the No. 2 quarterback in passing in the Hawkeyes' James Vandenberg.  Vandenberg is also No. 3 in passing efficiency rating of 155.2, and his favorite target is wide receiver Marvin McNutt, who has nine touchdown catches this year.

    The Wolverines will counter with an offense that exploded for 441 yards of total offense in a 36-14 home win over Purdue last Saturday.  For once, Michigan's leading rusher was not quarterback Denard Robinson. It was running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, who ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

    If Iowa's offense can stage solid drives that keep Micihgan's "O" off the field, then the Hawkeyes will win and still be in contention for a division title.

    Iowa 31, Michigan 28

Big Ten Player to Watch: Iowa Quarterback James Vandenberg

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    Iowa's James Vandenberg has emerged from the shadows to become the second-best quarterback in the Big Ten.

    The guy who stood on the sidelines as Ricky Stanzi's understudy learned his lessons well.  In the loss to Minnesota, he completed two-thirds of his passes for 177 yards and a touchdown.  Vandenberg has thrown 17 touchdown passes and only four interceptions.

    His favorite target is wide receiver Marvin McNutt.  McNutt has compiled some monster statistics that include 25 career touchdown catches and five TDs in his last three games.

    Vandenberg is to Iowa what quarterback Kirk Cousins is to Michigan State. If he manages the Iowa offense and the clock efficiently in this game, Iowa will beat the No. 15 Michigan Wolverines.

Chiller Game: Nebraska Beats Northwestern at Home

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    Do I expect Northwestern to beat Nebraska? No.

    This game gives me chills, because it features some of the best offensive stars in the Big Ten.

    There is Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead (pictured), who ran past and through the vaunted Michigan State rushing defense last Saturday.

    There is Cornhusker quarterback Taylor Martinez, who will never win a contest for throwing the prettiest passes, but is No. 8 in the Big Ten in rushing.

    There is a Northwestern offense that teased and romped through Indiana's defense in Week 9 to the tune of 616 total yards of offense.

    Wildcat quarterback Dan Persa completed 80 percent of his passes for 261 yards and threw three touchdown passes.

    Nebraska's defense held the Spartans to three points. Northwestern's defense gives up an average of 34 points a game.

    Nebraska 41, Northwestern 14

Snoozers: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Ohio State March on in Division Races

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    Michigan State returns to the friendly confines of Spartan Stadium to face Minnesota.

    The Golden Gophers are in the offensive cellar of the Big Ten in scoring, total yards and passing.  They are No. 11 in rushing.

    The Spartan defense is probably primed for a big game, but it is the MSU offense that must rediscover its identity and put some major points on the scoreboard if the team is going to surge toward a Legends Division title.

    Michigan State 38, Minnesota 3

    What did Purdue do wrong?

    Last week they traveled to "The Big House" and got trampled by the Michigan Wolverines, who are battling for the Legends Division title. This week, the Boilermakers face No. 20 Wisconsin in Camp Randall Stadium.

    You think the stadium in Ann Arbor is something? Wait until you see a sea of red and white Badger fans bouncing around and making noise on Wisconsin's home field.

    After two heart-rendering defeats on the road, I expect Wisconsin to explode on offense and put up numbers reminiscent of the first five weeks of the season.

    Wisconsin 56, Purdue 14

    When running back Daniel Herron (pictured) returned to the Buckeyes, it jump-started their offense.

    Ohio State is playing, well, like Ohio State should play football.  They are pounding the ball on the ground thanks to Herron, which frees up the passing options for freshman quarterback Braxton Miller.

    The Buckeye defense is deep in talent and has been great in their last two conference games.

    The Buckeyes seem to be the best prepared Leaders Division contender.  Indiana should be thankful that Ohio State prefers to run the ball rather than perform an aerial show like Northwestern did in week 9.

    Ohio State 27, Indiana 3