Thursday, October 8, 2009

Iowa Preview

It seems like every year Michigan encounters Iowa, I'm thinking to myself, "Man, this Iowa team is really good this year, they're totally going to beat us."  I thought this is 2004 when then-freshmen Chad Henne and Mike Hart were certain to be overwhelmed by the pounding Iowa defense; Michigan won 30-17. I thought it in 2005 when a 4-3, reeling Michigan squad was coming off Henne to Manningham; Michigan won 23-20 on the road. And I even thought so during the 2006 season on our way to The The Game; Michigan won 20-6.

It's because of this history that I think a win in tomorrow's game is vaguely possible. Let's look and some stats:
30th nationally
180.40 YPG, 47.90%
55th nationally
222.60 YPG, 7.13 YPA
50th nationally
122 YPG, 4.10 YPC
62nd nationally
139.60 YPG, 3.92 YPC
10th nationally
13.40 PPG
82nd nationally
24.80 PPG

88th nationally
239.00 YPG, 59.77%
80th nationally
190.20 YPG, 7.10 YPA
81st nationally
153 YPG, 4.16 YPC
28th nationally
197.80 YPG, 4.82 YPC
55th nationally
23.40 PPG
24th nationally
34 PPG

I think the most suprising thing about these stats in Iowa's defensive ranks. For a team that's being billed as a hard-nosed defensive juggernaut, you'd expect their numbers to be better than 4.10 YPC against, as opposed to Michigan's abysmal performances that have produced a 4.16 YPC against. Michigan's increased yardage allowed on the ground is almost certainly a direct result of their time of possession. Michigan holds the ball for 26:27 per game, while Iowa has the ball 6 minutes longer (32:29 per game).

The telling stat here is that Iowa is 10th in scoring defense. That screams bend-don't-break defense, culminating in solid red zone stops. Iowa's ability to stop the run in these situations is likely the reason for this difference. But this is where Michigan benefits: Tate has proven an ability to play well in the red zone (aside from his OT interception), and Michigan's running game big threat ability is going to have a chance to break a few big runs and get in the end zone. If Michigan's Frankensteined offensive line can begin to mesh together, we could actually see a decent rushing attack. That's largely dependent on the line looking at all like it did with Molk at center, however.

As far as the passing game goes, hell, I don't know. Iowa, by the numbers, has been very good against passing teams. And without Tate Being Tate, Michigan's passing game is pretty unremarkable. I think you see a lot of the rollout passes that Michigan used at the end of the game against MSU, especially given how poorly our line has played in pass protection and how well Iowa's defensive front can play. But Iowa has been susceptible to scrambly quarterback scrambles. And, ya know, Tate. I think Tate probably makes a few bad decisions here when he should just throw the ball away. Here's to hoping he limits these.

Final thoughts
Iowa is +5 in the turnover column through five games (for the record, Iowa's FBS opponents are a collective -3 in turnover margin; Michigan is +2) and needed two blocked field goals to beat lowly Northern Iowa in the season opener. Their offense has been erratic and they haven't entirely filled the hole left by Shonn Greene, or at least not with as potent results. I see this game coming down to whoever wins the turnover battle. Michigan's defense has been bad (albeit with a promising performance against a similarly offensive-minded team in MSU last week), but if they can cause a few turnovers and hold on to the ball themselves, I think they come out ahead here.

  • Tate gets at least one intentional grounding called against him.
  • The line struggles in coverage and Tate gets sacked 3(+) times.
  • Someone on the team rushes for over 100 yards. Michigan also scores a rushing touchdown.
  • Ricky Stanzi throws at least one INT. Probably two. (Look for Tate to throw one or two and having trouble adjusting to the cold.)
Prediction: I came into writing this hopeful that Michigan had a chance, and I think, looking at Iowa's defensive numbers (honestly the only hesitation behind a "We can totally win this" proclamation), I've been swayed a little bit toward Win, so long as we can create a few turnovers. It's going to be a mostly low-scoring affair as Iowa controls the ball for much of the game. It feels a lot like the MSU game, but this time, Michigan doesn't shoot itself in the foot all day. Michigan 23-17.


Emery said...

A couple quick TDs opens this one wide open, despite the numbers saying otherwise. If Michigan wins the field position battle this week, they have a good shot. Michigan has to win the turnover battle to keep this close.

Stupid predictions:

B-Graham manages to eek out a sack, only one of two for the day for the whole defense.
Shaw gets 40% of the carries, yet still rocks it.
Stanzi has a big day (by Iowa standards).
Tate goes for one 40+ yard run.
A bunch of stupid turnovers from both teams keep this one close.
Michigan 35-34.

Chris Gaerig said...

I disagree with basically everything here. A couple quick TDs blows it open, sure. But that's like saying "If we score more than them, we win".

As far as field position goes, we basically just need to not shoot ourselves in the foot (fakepuntfail, etc.).

BG might get a sack. He might not. If we've learned anything from this season so far, it's that BG doesn't have to fill the stat sheet to be productive.

Shaw gets some carries, but not nearly as many as you think. I think.

Tate might (might!) run for 40 yards on the game. No way he breaks out a long one here. And you know my feelings about turnovers.

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