Michigan’s third road game of the year. The Wolverines have beaten Rutgers (78-0) and Michigan State (32-23) in their two previous road games this season. The Wolverines have outscored their last four opponents by a total score of 203 to 34 (Rutgers, Illinois, Michigan State and Maryland).
The Wolverines have been an offensive machine this season averaging 48 points per game and have loved to run the football between the tackles averaging 251 rushing yards per game this year. Te ability to run the football consistently has opened up the passing attack and has allowed quarterback Wilton Speight to throw over the top of opposing secondaries for 245 yards per game.
Speight has completed 64% of his passes for 2,053 yards with 15 touchdowns and 3 interceptions this year. He has shown great poise in the pocket in finding his receivers down the field. He throws a very solid deep ball and has shown the ability to locate his alternate options in the passing tree. Under Harbaugh’s tutelage this year, Speight has grown into a confident quarterback that has gained the respect of his teammates and will need to step up in a tough environment this Saturday night in primetime.
Running back Deveon Smith leads the team with 564 yards averaging 5.1 yards per carry with 8 touchdowns this year. Smith is a vital piece to the offensive game plan this weekend as Michigan will look to run the football first to loosen up the Hawkeyes front seven early on.
Wide receiver Amarah Darboh and tight end Jake Butt have been Speight’s main targets in the passing game and have combined for 76 receptions for 1,126 yards with 10 touchdowns. Darboh has the speed to take the top off of the defense, while Butt is used on seam and dig patterns over the middle of the field.
Defensively, the Wolverines boast one of the best units in college football led by outside linebacker Jabril Peppers. Michigan is allowing 10 points per game and is holding opposing offenses to 107 yards rushing per game along with 138 passing yards per game.
Peppers is a force in the run game as he puts pressure on opposing offensive lines to account for him at all times. Peppers is second on the team with 53 total tackles and has recorded 3.5 sacks on the year. Peppers is always around the football and is a fierce tackler in space.
Michigan enters this game +9 in turnover margin and has recorded 30 sacks through the first nine games.
The Wolverines are holding opposing offenses to 18% on third down conversions and will look to force Iowa quarterback C.J Beathard into beating them over the top of their secondary.
The Hawkeyes have struggled this season running the football consistently which has put pressure on their offensive line and quarterback C.J Beathard in the passing game.
Entering this game, Iowa is averaging 26 points per game and is rushing for 152 yards per game on the ground along with passing for 182 yards through the air this season.
C.J Beathard has completed 59% of his passes for 1,584 yards with 13 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He has struggled with his deep passes and has shown inconsistency in reading coverage this year. However, Beathard has big game experience and will not be fazed with the second ranked Wolverines coming into town this Saturday.
Running back Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels have combined for 1,306 rushing yards with 14 rushing touchdowns. Both players give Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz the ability to have fresh legs in the ball game at all times and are solid receivers in the short to intermediate passing game.
Iowa cannot afford to get into a shootout at home against the Wolverines high octane offense. They must be able to run the football and take time off of the clock to get Michigan into a low scoring game. Iowa is converting 35% of their third down attempts and look for Beathard to attack Michigan on running downs (1st and 2nd downs) to keep the Wolverines defense off balance.
Defensively, the Hawkeyes are allowing 21 points per game and are yielding 176 rushing yards to opposing offenses. The secondary is giving up 225 passing yards per game but does have a veteran cornerback in Desmond King that can force turnovers at home.
Iowa enters this game at +6 in turnover margin and is +5 at home this year.
The Hawkeyes have allowed 193 passing yards at home which is 32 yards better than their season average. The unit is holding opposing offenses to 35% of their third down attempts this year.
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