Michigan vs Iowa Preview 2019

Mostly corn. Some football.

Kickoff time: 12:00 EST
Michigan Stadium: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Michigan -3.5, O/U 47.5

I used to wonder if people lived in Iowa on purpose. Driving down the I-80 Corn Abyss is almost enchanting the first time, but after several drives it's a stretch of the U.S. I loathe going down. That is until I drive through Nebraska and realized that Iowa was never as bad as I thought. In fact every time I visit a city in Iowa it's a lovely time. Des Moines was incredibly welcoming for the NCAA Tournament this past spring - the locals were so excited to be hosting the event. Iowa City is a fun college town, Davenport is lovely by the river, and the locals are genuinely friendly.

Ask Michigan fans what Big Ten teams they despise the least and Iowa, Wisconsin, and Nebraska usually take the top three spots. I mean, how can you hate a tradition like this:


A loss to Iowa hurts, but in a "Good for you" kind of way. Having Kirk Ferentz as a head coach long enough to think the 150 patch is about him is a great way to establish an identity, even if Iowa fans don't always agree. 

Be nice to the Iowa fans you see, they won't bite. Unless you're a Nebraska fan, they despise Nebraska fans, it's funny.

Iowa Offense vs Michigan Defense
Remember the Iowa offense from 2016? And 2013? And 2012? And 2011? And 2010? And 2009? And 2006? Yeah, it's that offense. Since 1998, Iowa has had three offensive coordinators. Michigan has had eight. The rush-rush-pass offense of Kirk Ferentz folk lore will be on display except for the bag of trick plays that they save all season specifically for this game.

Iowa QB Nate Stanley (#4) has been generating a bit of NFL draft hype. Through four games he is completing 64% of his passes for 965 yards, 8 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Against Iowa State, the #24 SP+ defense, Stanley completed 62% for over 200 yards (this was a rain-game, FYI). His top receiver is Ihmir Smith-Marsette (#6) who has 254 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns. Outside of Smith-Marsette, the passing numbers are fairly evenly distributed among the other receivers and running back Mekhi Sargent (#10).

You may recall that former Michigan receiver Martin Oliver transferred to the Hawkeyes and was granted immediate eligibility. Oliver currently has one reception for five yards and has not been a major contributor to this squad.

Tackle Tristan Wirfs (#74) was named the #1 tackle prospect in the 2020 draft by some. Iowa's other NFL-bound tackle, Alaric Jackson (#77) is set to return from a knee sprain after being out against Iowa State. These tackles will help lead a rushing attack that is averaging 218 yards per game, led by runing back Mekhi Sargent with 299 yards.

Iowa is a very well-balanced pro-style offense that will look approximately like every other Iowa offense. They know who they are and they're good at it, like a Wisconsin Lite. Iowa's passing attack could be a major threat because Michigan's defensive line may have trouble getting to the quarterback. Michigan's DEs have been a strength but they could be mitigated by an NFL-level offensive line. The key player for Michigan on defense will be Dwumfour and whether or not he can apply pressure. Lavert Hill should be able to hold his own against Smith-Marsette and Daxton Hill is emerging as an effective nickelback. Nate Stanley will get chunks but probably not home runs. Expect Don Brown to blitz out the linebackers if the D-line cannot get pressure. Iowa is rolling in with the #30 SP+ offense but faces down the #6 defense in the country.

Old defense picture because these teams barely play anymore because of Maryland/Rutgers

Iowa Defense vs Michigan Offense
I dunno, man. It's hard to predict much when you don't know what Michigan's offense is. Putting up 52 against Rutgers is what it is (Iowa put up a 30-0 shutout for what it's worth).

Linebacker Kristian Welch (#34) leads the team in tackles with 31. One name that should sound familiar is Michael Ojemudia (#11), brother of former Michigan d-lineman Mario Ojemudia. Michael has two interceptions on the season and 15 tackles.

The main dangerman to watch for is the other Iowa prospect slated to go in the first round of the NFL Draft. Defensive end A.J. Epenesa (#94) has been getting first round hype and is looking to ruin Shea Patterson's day. This is because Shea likes to scramble at the first sign of pressure. Against Rutgers, Michigan's offensive playbook was simplified and Shea performed much better on the run with simpler reads. On the other side, Iowa defensive end Chauncey Golston (#57) is also an NFL draft type looking to give Patterson fits. With Runyan and Mayfield both having been banged up this season, this will be a big test to see if they're willing to compete against the best of the Big Ten.

Aside from the defensive ends, the biggest match-up in this game will be Michigan vs their own identity crisis. Do Michigan's receivers look better than Iowa's secondary? Yes. Does Michigan's interior offensive line look like they can blow up Iowa's defensive tackles? Yes. Should Charbonnet perform well against the second level? Yes.

Will Michigan call the right plays to exploit Michigan's strengths against Iowa's weaknesses? Well, I guess we'll see. Michigan's offense has been too chaotic to accurately predict what could happen.

Best Case Scenario
The Rutgers game was a sign of good things to come and the simplified Michigan offense actually utilizes more #SpeedInSpace than the first three games did. Chucking downfield to Nico Collins works because of course it does. A healthy Charbonnet fills the Iowa box enough for Michigan's elite receivers to make plays (beyond locking onto Ronnie Bell). On defense, Dwumfour is effective enough to disrupt Stanley and the run game. Not starting Ben Mason is already having a positive effect.

Worst Case Scenario
Wisconsin Lite is enough to beat identity crisis Michigan. Iowa's defensive ends fluster Patterson and the gameplan is ineffective. Iowa's offense is not as efficient as Wisconsin's but they know who they are and they're solid at it. Worst case scenario is probably not as bad as 35-0 but I could see a 17-0 being too much to overcome.

If Michigan comes out with a gameplan that blows Iowa out of the water I would believe it. If Iowa blows Michigan out of the water, I would believe it. This Michigan team is weird to follow.

The Part Where Patrick Gets the Score Completely Wrong 
Michigan - 24
Iowa - 21

Past Highlights


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