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Open Thread: The Big Ten Football Game of the Week

Iowa Hawkeyes vs Michigan Wolverines in the “Big House”

Rutgers v Michigan Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Iowa will head into Michigan stadium this week for a West vs East division clash. The Hawkeyes are looking to get a statement win in Ann Arbor and keep their unblemished record alive. Their offense has been very balanced and led by senior quarterback Nate Stanley. Stanley has had the best four-game start of his career at Iowa.

In a lower volume system, Stanley has been very efficient and protective of the ball. He has yet to throw an interception and boasts 8 touchdown passes on the season. He is a great complement to Iowa’s offensive system.

Here are some of the key details about Saturday’s matchup below.

Game Stats:

  • Where: Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • When: Saturday, NOON ET
  • Channel: FOX
  • Spread: - 3.5 Michigan

Iowa has rolled with a three pronged attack of running backs who average about 6.2 yards per carry and total 752 yards rushing on the season. Mekhi Sargent is the unquestioned headline back. He’s had an important complementary role in the passing game where he has 9 catches for 102 yards so far. Along with his carries he totals 63 touches, averaging almost 6.4 yards per touch. Behind a strong and experienced line, all three backs are able to be productive. Look for Iowa to try to punch Michigan in the mouth on the ground to open up the pass.

Defense will be the strength of both teams in this game. It was assumed to be Michigan’s strength in the game against Wisconsin, but we all saw what happened there. Some might say it was just a bad day for Michigan, but I think Wisconsin is just that good behind a Heisman candidate in the backfield and an elite offensive line. But I digress. There is no doubt that Michigan needs to reestablish itself as a contender in the Big Ten. A blowout of Rutgers does not a contender make.

A great performance on offense against a Hawkeye team that ranks 5th in the country in total defense would help energize this Michigan team. That starts with Michigan’s line opening up holes for their rushing attack to help take a little pressure off QB Shea Patterson in the passing game. A stout defensive performance against a Hawkeye offense that is balanced and disciplined would certainly help Michigan take control of this game . I feel a little more optimistic about the Wolverines having a strong defensive showing considering they rank 81st in the country in total offense and 48th in passing offense.

Whether it’s a low scoring defensive battle or a high octane shootout I’m sure Wolverine fans would just be happy with a win over another Big Ten contender in any form it might come. It ought to help that a crowd of 107,000 + will be behind them.

Give your thoughts on the game in the comments section below!

-My Prediction: Michigan 24 Iowa 10