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H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. Predicts: Michigan Wolverines

Harbaugh makes his first trip to Kinnick. And Game Day follows.

Hawk for Nerds
How do you try to predict the unpredictable Coach Khaki Pants?

I’m not even going to pretend to break down the abomination that we saw last week because nothing I can say will soften the blow. And Iowa has an even tougher opponent coming in to town this weekend. Saturday night. Under the lights. In Kinnick. On national TV. What could possibly go wrong?

I’ll just quickly throw up the results (pun intended). Iowa lost, the computer called it. Iowa moves to 5-4, H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. advances to 6-3 on the season. Hooray for the mechanical overlord.

Predicted Actual
Iowa PSU Iowa PSU
Passing Yards 172.0 230.5 204 240
Rushing Yards 141.0 166.9 30 359
Turnovers 1.0 1.5 1 0
Penalties 7.8 5.1 4 9
Offensive Plays 64.7 65.1 52 70
First Downs 16.0 19.5 14 24
Score 18 28 14 41

Gross. But outside of the rushing yards and score, the model was pretty accurate. Iowa failed to create any turnovers and coughed up one of their own. And on top of that, Saquon Barkley. Period. That’s all I’m gonna say.

So, the fighting Jim Harbaughs make their way to Kinnick Stadium on the 12th. And following right behind them is the ESPN Game Day crew. I have a deep, anxiety-inducing, well-founded fear that Jimmy and Co. are going to take the opportunity to paste the Hawkeyes. The narrative for the last few weeks has been that Iowa represents the first true road test for the Wolverines and I fully expect them to be more than happy to try to name the score against the Hawks. And apparently, the artificial intelligence that is H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. could not agree more. In a less-than-surprising twist, the computer is predicting both the lowest AND highest score it has predicted for any team this season.

Iowa Michigan
Passing Yards 116.2 267.0
Rushing Yards 79.9 212.5
Turnovers 0.8 0.5
Penalties 5.5 2.5
Offensive Plays 50.9 70.5
First Downs 10.7 24.5
Score 8 36
Confidence 96%

So even the hyper-conservative computer model is expecting a 4-touchdown win for Michigan. As of this writing, Vegas has the spread at 22. And if I weren’t absolutely against betting on a team I root for, I’d lay big bucks on Michigan beating that spread. Iowa has looked atrocious in basically every phase of the game and Michigan has looked like a juggernaut. H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. suggests that Iowa is going to struggle to get any sort of offensive momentum going, with a possibility that the Hawks don’t even break 200 yards of total offense.

There is one possible bright spot. If pundits seem to think Michigan hasn’t played anybody of consequence on the road, then it’s possible a big night crowd can rattle a young quarterback facing the most hostile environment he’ll have seen yet. Also, though I think this is less likely, H.A.W.K.E.Y.E.S. might be slightly underestimating Iowa’s defense and offense after a particularly poor showing against a stronger-than-expected Penn State last week. Maybe. Let me know your predictions in the comments.