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November 16, 2012

Staff Predictions: Michigan vs. Iowa

It's Iowa week, but this year it has a different feel to it. The Hawkeyes remain solid in spots, but they're just not very good. Then again, they weren't all that good last year, either, before upsetting Michigan 24-16.

That one was in Iowa City, though, a tough place to play (as Michigan fans hope Nebraska finds out next week). More important than Saturday's game, though, is this - how will TheWolverine.com staff approach staff picks for the final home game of the season? Will they get sappy about Denard Robinson? Something to do with corn?

Here's a staff prediction on staff predictions this week:

John Borton: Something about corn, of course (though tempered because of his appreciation for our nation's farmers - and because he has a silo in sight of his backyard in what's affectionately known as East Lafayette around these parts).

Outside chance of an Alan Alda M*A*S*H reference, as well, just to remind us that he is, in fact, the veteran on this staff (though we'd peg him as more of a Walton's Mountain kind of guy).

Mike Spath: Something to remind us that his prediction of Indiana as Leaders Division champion didn't look all that bad after the Hoosiers beat the Hawkeyes, no doubt - and given his affection for comic book characters (some of our readers swear he dressed up as Hellboy for the premiere a few years back, and the way he anticipated its release, we wouldn't doubt it), quite possibly an Avengers Hawkeye reference.

Tim Sullivan: An inclusion on how a win over the Hawkeyes will help the Wolverines' chances with '14 Urbandale (Iowa) receiver Allen Lazard. Otherwise BigBlueStud14327 on the message boards will tee-pee his house.

Andy Reid: Some literary reference that stuns us all ('where the hell did that come from?'), even if it shouldn't - he is a Michigan grad, after all. That said, most of you don't have access to his facebook page, or weren't privy to how much enjoyment he got in the Iowa press box a few years ago after he saw the Marvin McNutt t-shirts students were wearing on campus (you'll have to Google it. This is a family site).

Kevin Minor: Something conservative and on the straight and narrow, given how we roasted him for one of his picks earlier this year (as part of a hazing ritual, of course. Minor's one of the best interns we've ever had, as much as it pains to admit).

That said, as Doug Karsch once posted about Josh Helmholdt, one team's point total will leave you wondering, 'is this guy using the metric system or something? How does he think they're going to get to (11? 29? 36?).'

Congratulations to everyone on staff last week but Minor - even though he probably had the best pick of the bunch, all of the other staffers picked U-M to score 31 points in regulation. That counts for something around here, where moral victories are every bit as satisfying as actual wins.

This week's winner receives the Indiana: Big Ten Champs! football tee Spath had printed last week.

The picks:

Chris Balas: As one of the last few who still believes Kirk Ferentz is a damn good football coach, I expect the Hawkeyes to put up a fight in Ann Arbor this weekend, remain completely healthy and spend the rest of the week game planning to win one for the seniors against Nebraska as though they were playing for a Legends Division title.

Michigan 27, Iowa 17


John Borton: Michigan and Iowa have been playing football since 1900, and over all those years, the Hawkeyes have won three in a row one time -- 2009, 2010 and 2011. With all due respect to the Mayans … uh, no.

Michigan 34, Iowa 17


Michael Spath: A classic Iowa team would put up a fight no matter how bad its season has become. A classic Iowa team would win the battle along the offensive and defensive lines, causing fits to a team like Michigan that still isn't where it wants to be there (especially along the OL). A classic Iowa team would take this game into the fourth quarter, and have a chance to win late. A classic Iowa team … this is not.

Michigan 38, Iowa 10


Tim Sullivan: Michigan has had its share of ups and downs this season, but outside of one weird win in East Lansing, it's been all downs for the Hawkeyes. Kirk Ferentz's negotiating skills must be far better than his coaching, because the results on the field sure don't justify his top salary.

Michigan 31, Iowa 9


Andy Reid: In the novel The Last Of The Mohicans, the character Hawkeye - who was the genesis of Iowa's nickname, "The Hawkeye State," and subsequently the university's mascot - races to save his companions Uncas and Cora in battle.

Both die at the hands of Magua on the edge of a cliff, before Hawkeye can get there.

This is an apt analogy for 2012 Iowa football - the Hawkeyes just don't get there in time. In 10 games this season, Iowa has been outscored in the first half seven times by an average 9.3 points. In their six losses, the Hawkeyes are averaging less than a touchdown in the opening 30 minutes (6.8 points per game), while surrendering and average of 15.8 points.

Expect Michigan to jump out to an early, comfortable lead. Plenty of seniors will get the chance to see the field in their last appearance at Michigan Stadium.

Michigan 38, Iowa 13


Kevin "The Intern" Minor: Iowa has proven to be a massive roadblock for Michigan in their past three meetings, but that is about to change. While the Wolverines haven't defeated the Hawkeyes since 2006, Kirk Ferentz's 2012 squad doesn't even fit the persona of a parking structure speed bump.

UI is a team without an identity. It can't run the ball effectively due to a multitude of injuries in the backfield, including sophomore running back Mark Weisman, who is expected to miss his third-straight game with a leg injury, and can't pass well despite the experience of a senior quarterback in James Vandenberg.

Simply put, Iowa just isn't good.

The Hawkeyes will be fighting to avoid their first losing season since 2000, but U-M should hold the advantage in nearly every facet of this matchup, and will run away with this one at the Big House.

Michigan 32, Iowa 14


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