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November 22, 2013
Staff Predictions: Michigan at Iowa
What a difference a year - heck, several weeks - makes. Michigan trounced Kirk Ferentz' Iowa team around this time last year, after which Ferentz made several changes to his staff, including former U-M receivers coach Erik Campbell. The Wolverines were a preseason nine-point favorite to win in Iowa City (bet you wish you had some of that action now!).
Campbell, awarded the game ball after Iowa beat the Wolverines in 2009, is now coaching somewhere in Canada in the CFL. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, are back to the Iowa of old - not bad, not great, but solid in the trenches, good in play action with a statue of a quarterback and somewhere in the middle to lower-upper half of the Big Ten.
Occasionally, too, they're all peeing brown and being rushed to the hospital, which seems odd from this vantage point but must be normal in Iowa (something in the water? The corn?) since we haven't heard anything about it since.
We trust that everyone is okay, however, and they've got it figured out. They're playing like they have, anyway, going toe to toe with Ohio State for over a half and sitting at 3-3 in the Big Ten - although is that really an accomplishment in this year's Legends Division?
In saying that, we have to recognize that Michigan isn't where it wants to be yet. Nine years without a title in Ann Arbor is about eight too many (signed, anyone who followed this team in the 1950s).
Congratulations to Andy Reid, who took time from coaching the Kansas City Chiefs to new heights to predict the Wolverines would win at Northwestern in three overtimes after running the field goal team out with no time remaining. Whatever the gift was, Andy, take two and add a fruit salad.
This week's winner takes home a new Cadillac. Second place is a set of steak knives, third prize is 'you're fired.'
Chris Balas: Did the running game really take a giant leap forward or was Northwestern really that bad up front? We'll find out Saturday when the Wolverines get a look at a team that will match its physicality and try to strip its manhood. Quarterback Devin Gardner already admitted he hated playing in cold weather, and at 25 degrees with 23 MPH winds, it will be a test of his resolve.
The environment will be too much to overcome.
Iowa 20, Michigan 16
John Borton: The Wolverines are scrambling to the finish, setting the tone with the last play in regulation against Northwestern. So one more major offensive tweak can carry them. Drew Dileo slides in at quarterback, sprinting onto the field whenever needed, with the option to keep, pitch to a tailback, pitch to another tailback (Devin Gardner) for throws, etc. Why slow the momentum now?
Michigan 24, Iowa 23
Michael Spath: Was last week a sign that Michigan has gotten over the hump and is on the slow curve back up or was it an aberration - a temporary relief against a Northwestern team that is cursed? I continue to fall into the 'show-me' crowd and I remain unconvinced U-M is ready to go on the road against a physical defense.
Iowa 20, Michigan 17
Andy Reid: I've been to Iowa City. I've seen the carnage. That stadium is jam-packed with people whose bellies are full of fried turkey legs and liquor. Of course it's a hostile place to play.
The Wolverines still have not proven they can play well on the road. Since Brady Hoke took over before the 2011 season, Michigan has won exactly one road game against a team that finished with a winning record. That was the 2011 Illinois squad that finished 7-6 and lost six consecutive games to close out the regular season.
Well, this is the 2013 Wolverines' last chance to put together an impressive road performance. So far, they have won two despite underwhelming performances (24-21 at Connecticut and 27-19 in triple overtime against a Northwestern team that is 0-6 in conference play) and lost two (43-40 in quadruple-overtime at Penn State and a 29-6 beatdown at Michigan State).
It's time, Michigan. Go out and win a big one on the road.
Michigan 21, Iowa 17
Tim Sullivan: Did Michigan turn a corner offensively by inserting Derrick Green and Deveon Smith at running back, or was the Northwestern game just a solid performance against an overmatched D? The answer is somewhere in between, though I'd lean toward the former since U-M - for the first time in weeks - was moving the ball consistently in regulation, even though they were having trouble converting third downs and scoring points, it was an indication that they'll be able to hammer out some yards. The Iowa defense is better, but the offense worse.
Michigan 20, Iowa 13