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The Pants Predicts: Iowa Hawkeyes at Michigan Wolverines

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The Hawkeyes face their first ranked opponent of the season this week. Fortunately, it’s a road game. Who will be victorious? We predict.

Middle Tennessee v Iowa
Will the Hawkeyes go rock, paper or scissors against Michigan tomorrow?
Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

It was another good week for the Pants staff on the prediction front. All but two of us had Iowa covering against Middle Tennessee and all but two of us botched another mark in the win column. If you’re keeping track at home, which I’m sure you are, more than half the staff has now correctly picked 75% of Iowa’s games this year.

Don’t listen to you buddy who’s a math wiz, sample size has nothing to do with it. We're clearly just geniuses counting down the days until we move to Vegas to strike it rich. That and we’re all optimists taking Iowa to cover no matter what. Either way, it’s been working. Here’s the breakdown by staff member thus far.

Ben - 3-1

DC - 3-1

Jerry - 3-1

JP - 3-1

Matt R - 3-1

BoilerHawk - 2-2

Doug - 2-2

Matt C - 1-3

This week, things look largely the same. The Hawkeyes are road dogs, which makes the first marks the first time this season Iowa is not favored. Just how much they’re not favored by depends on your book of choice.

Depending in which sports book you use, the Hawkeyes opened as anywhere from 7 to 3.5 point underdogs to Michigan.

Most places have since seen that be bet down to around -3.5 Michigan, which is where Elite Sports Book (the book used by the local Eastern Iowa casino in Riverside) opened and has kept the line. The over/under is set at 47, which means the implied final score is Michigan 25.25, Iowa 21.75. My lock of the week is that not being the final score.

On the whole, the staff is pretty optimistic. All but one of us has Iowa covering and six of us have the Hawkeyes winning outright. Our average final score is Iowa 26, Michigan 22. That would hit the over with a total score of 48.

Which of us do you need to chastise? Let’s find out.


JPinIC: This is Iowa’s first real test of the season. I mean, Iowa State was a test, but this is a real test. At least we all think it is. After the way this team was obliterated by Wisconsin, it’s hard to really say. But Michigan will have far and away the most talented roster Iowa has faced all year. They have the bodies in the middle to hang with Iowa and the speed on the outside to beat Iowa.

It will be interesting to see if the Hawkeyes go back to their old ways of trying to force the Wolverines to play this game in a phone booth but insisting on pounding the rock and grinding out another 14-13 style win or if they decide to open things up and put Michigan on the defensive. With the way they responded to Wisconsin punching them in the mouth, I’d like to see Brian Ferentz go for the throat early and attack Michigan the way he did Ohio State two seasons ago. But if Kirk gets his way, this is likely to be another slug fest.

The Hawkeyes are 6-2 against Michigan under Ferentz when the Wolverines are favored by fewer than 10 and Michigan hasn’t beaten the Hawkeyes since 2012. I think the trend continues as Iowa wins a tight one.

Iowa 27, Michigan 24

DC: On SpoCo Radio this week, I asked if either of my co-hosts were nervous for this game and neither really seemed to be. While that is somewhat terrifying, I kind of see their point. If the Iowa defense can cover the talented Michigan receivers in the 4-3 base personnel without having to rely on a depleted nickel package, Iowa can control this game the entire way. Michigan put up a lot of points last week but it was because they played Rutgers, not because their Offensive Coordinator was calling plays from the sidelines. I think Iowa wins and we spend the rest of Saturday figuring out if Game Day is coming back to the state of Iowa.

Iowa 31, Michigan 21

Jerry Scherwin: To me, this game is one in which we look back and realize that Iowa was always in control despite overreactions and concerns in the moment. While this is going to be a tough one for Iowa considering Harbaugh doesn’t lose at home (unless, of course, you’re a fan of a team with a green Greek warrior or a nut from a tree). BUT... Iowa, right now, is the more complete TEAM. Michigan might have better parts and pieces, but Iowa’s machine as a whole is humming. The special teams takes care of the offense that takes care of the defense that takes care of the offense. And around and around we go.

Iowa 30, Michigan 24

Trez: Perhaps this is the first time in my life I’m more worried about our defense than I am the offense, which confuses me because I still have little faith in Stanley’s accuracy and BF’s ability to call the perfect plays when we need them most. I think the defense does enough to give our O the opportunities they need to put points on the board. Though this will not happen unless we have some stellar performances and here I give you two names to watch: Tyler Goodson and Tyrone Tracy, JR. If Mich truly blitz’s as often as they say, then Goodson has the speed to break through the push and get into the open. And if Tracy can limit the dropsies, he’s unbelievable after the catch. This is going to be a really fun game to watch and I think the Hawks lock it down in the 4th.

Iowa 34, Michigan 20

Ben: So here’s the thing: Michigan probably isn’t as bad as the team that got absolutely dismantled by Wisconsin, but also what if it is? Iowa has looked the sharpest I can remember the Hawkeyes ever looking this early in the season in the 10 or so years of my fandom, but there’s a reason we’re still relatively heavy underdogs, boys and girls. The line opened (per my book, dunno where JP’s looking) at Iowa +4.5 and was bet down to +3.5 as of this writing.

Am I nervous that Iowa’s defensive backfield is just shy of being put together by string, going against Michigan’s strongest (only strong?) offensive unit? Yes. Am I nervous that Iowa hasn’t really been able to generate a pass rush all season? Terrified. Do I buy into that’s been by scheme so far? Not really!

But here’s the thing. Iowa has Nate Stanley and Ihmir Smith Marsette and Brandon Smith and Tristan Wirfs and AJ Epenesa and Djimon Colbert and Daviyon Nixon and Michael Ojemudia. And Michigan doesn’t. So give me the Hawks.

Iowa 27, Michigan 17.

BoilerHawk: We’re all way too confident about this game, self included, which means Iowa is totally going to lose. The inability to play 4-2-5 comes to the forefront as Michigan receivers expose Nick Niemann and Jack Koerner. Musical chairs in the secondary is the last thing any Iowa fan should want. The question will be whether they can get into the end zone enough. If they had Brock Purdy, it’d be a yes for me but Shea Patterson is kind of an ultimate wild card right now.

The Iowa offense hasn’t faced a defense with the speed and scheme of Michigan. ISU is probably closest, but they are much more bend-don’t-break-y than chaos-inducing, which is Michigan on their best days. Iowa hasn’t turned it over yet, which is awesome, but that is bound to break...hopefully not in Ann Arbor. These teams are just too close for me to think Iowa can more or less replicate Wisconsin’s home performance.

Michigan 21, Iowa 20

MattReisener: I really went back and forth on this pick. Iowa has been the better team in every respect through four games, and I trust a senior quarterback to go on the road and make plays in a hostile environment. I'm also in a strange position where I believe in the Hawkeye offense much more than the Wolverines'.

But Harbaugh has to be viewing this as a must-win game, and with as much talent as Michigan has, I'm betting that they'll be able to put things together eventually. There's some "regression to the mean" built in to this pick: Stanley is eventually going to throw an interception (he sure tried last week), and Michigan isn't going to keep fumbling three times per game forever. Iowa needs to play a newr perfect game to escape with a win here, and I think they fall just short of that goal.

Michigan 24, Iowa 21

mattcabel: I put this down as a loss in my preseason prediction and sadly I just feel like I need to keep it that way. I feel a lot better about this team than I did while making that prediction, especially offensively, but not sure how they’ll do in one of CFB’s toughest environments.

Michigan 24, Iowa 17

Doug: I’m staying on the Iowa “big season” bandwagon. For that to happen, a big win on the road is imperative (no Iowa State was not the big win). Might as well make it Saturday.

Iowa 27, Michigan 17


That’s it for us, what’s your prediction for tomorrow?

Go Hawks!