Iowa has 16 seniors who have contributed that will be introduced around 10:45 a.m. at Kinnick Stadium, ahead of the Iowa-Michigan game, which will kickoff at 11 a.m. on the Big Ten Network.
Michigan hit bottom in 2008 with a 3-8 record. After a 5-7 and 7-6 season under the head coach Rich Rodriquez, the Wolverines had seen enough. They made a change. Today, Rodriquez has Arizona at 6-4, hosting Oregon today at 2:30 p.m. on ABC/ESPN2 in a big game.
Brady Hoke entered in 2011 as head coach. He is a former Wolverines assistant coach, who is now in his third season at the helm at Michigan. It is Hoke's third stop, as a head coach, after six years at Ball State, his alma mater, and two seasons at San Diego State.
After 11-2 his first season in 2011, then 8-5 in 2012, the Wolverines are 7-3 heading into Kinnick today. A loss at Iowa, could continue a three year slide under Hoke. Even in 2011, one of his losses was to Iowa, as the Hawkeyes defeated Michigan 24-16 holding the Wolverines on 4th and goal on the final play.
Last week, the Wolverines won an important B1G road game in overtime at Northwestern. The Michigan program has only won eight B1G road games in the last 24 conference road games.
Two weeks ago, the Wolverines lost their first home game in three years under Brady Hoke, when Nebraska beat Michigan in Ann Arbor 17-13.
Iowa heads to Lincoln to face the 7-3 Cornhuskers on Black Friday, but first things first, the Hawkeyes host Senior Day at Kinnick Stadium vs. the Wolverines, who have been struggling on offense, since beginning November off a bye week. Iowa's future opponent, Nebraska, is at 6-4 Penn State at 2:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network following this game.
The Hawkeyes are coming off their second bye week ahead of Michigan.
Will the bye week help Iowa or will the Hawkeyes respond, like Michigan did to open November?
Did Michigan's B1G road win at Northwestern spark momentinum for the Wolverines?
Welcome to the battle in the trenches at Kinnck Stadium, as Michigan head coach Brady Hoke shared his throughts this week ahead of today's game:
"For those of you who have covered it for years, you know it's going to be a physical line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. I think they've only let four rushing touchdowns all year. They are averaging 197 yards rushing the football. They'll be physical at the point of attack. They are not going to be flashy, and you know that going in. Both of our fronts have got to be physical -- and from an offensive standpoint, target things right. From a defensive standpoint we've got to get with the stretch plays and zone plays, as much up the field penetration as we can."
Iowa is a young team, but Michigan is even younger one.
Iowa does have 15 key seniors leading the way on Senior Day at Kinnick. Michigan's Senior Day will be next Saturday hosting Ohio State, who haven't lost a B1G, since 2011 in Ann Arbor.
Neither team can afford to look ahead to next week.
So, who wins the battle in the trenches on Saturday? With today's cold weather and windy conditions, the running game will likely play a huge role.
Who leads Iowa's rushing attack vs. Michigan's on Saturday?
Michigan found a complement to fifth-year senior Fitz Troussaint last week at Northwestern. Troussaint missed the game with a concussion and freshmen Derrick Green and De'Veon Smith stepped up for a combined 120 rushing yards in his absence.
Their production created a situation similar to Iowa's three-headed backfield. But, unlike Iowa, there is no question who will lead Michigan's ground game.
"One thing we know is they have an outstanding quarterback," Iowa defensive coordinator Phil Parker said Thursday after practice. "Devin Gardner is a really good player. He's elusive and he can throw the ball. The three running backs they have are very good, and they're talented at the receiver. It will definitely be a challenge. They have a good offense and we know they'll play hard."
Michigan is coming off a grinding victory on the road. The Wolverines were kept out of the endzone for four quarters at Northwestern, but an improbable field goal as time expired sent the game to overtime. Touchdowns weren't a problem from there.
Gardner hit freshman TE Jake Butt for an 11-yard touchdown in the first overtime, then he rushed for a 5-yard score in the third overtime. He also converted the two-point attempt.
"Obviously we want to contain him (Gardner) and keep him under control," said Parker. "You look at couple teams and they've put some pressure on him. That doesn't always fit our system, so it's going to be a challenge to try to contain him."
|Sophomore DE Drew Ott|
is growing in the
The pair combined for 4.5 tackles for loss in Iowa's win at Purdue. Also, Ott has 2.5 sacks this season.
The Hawkeyes have scored 23 points or more in each of their road games this season. But, like Michigan in critical games, Iowa has been held to too many field goals or scoreless at times at Kinnick this season. Neither team is outstanding in red zone offense or defense. Iowa's pass defense has been vunerable to the big score.
Last week at Northwestern, Gardner could have been a victim for multiple interceptions, but the Northwestern defense had a case of the drops. On the season, Gardner has 15 touchdown passes, but 11 interceptions. Rudock has 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Who will manage the game better at quarterback?
Of course, the play of the offensive line will be very important. Michigan senior left tackle Taylor Lewan anchors the Michgian offensive line. In six B1G games, the Michigan offensive line has allowed 25 sacks for minus 185 yards. Iowa's offensive line leads the conference in protecting their quarterback.
This game could go down to the wire, like the 2011 game or the 1990 game, when Iowa pulled off a victory in Ann Arbor. A turnover sealed the game that day, a 24-23 Hawkeye victory. Could an Iowa senior linebacker step up and lead Iowa to victory this year?