All numbers included in this preview are using my PAN metric, Points Above Normal. PAN is essentially how many points above an average FBS team was a team/unit/player worth. For reference, an average FBS is approximately equal to UConn or a top team from the MAC.
All games against FCS teams are excluded for all teams, as well as any plays in the second half where one team leads by more than 2 touchdowns or any end of half run out the clock situations.
At this point adjustments for strength of opponent are directional but getting better. Opponent adjustment is included unless otherwise noted.
Rush Offense vs Iowa
Michigan Off +8 PAN, 1st nationally, 1st Big Ten
Iowa Def +5 PAN, 3rd, 1st
Despite a season worst showing last week against Michigan St, Michigan still enters with the number one rated rush offense in the country. The tests don’t get any easier as Michigan will look to hold the title against the #3 ranked rush defense. Neither team has had a below average game on the season and both teams have put up multiple +5 performances, which are very difficult to come by on the ground.
Taylor Martinez of Nebraska may have taken the headlines for a week, but the season totals are not even close. Denard is the nation’s top rusher at any position with a +9 himself. No other player has exceeded +5.
Even with the tough Hawkeye ground game, Michigan still should be able to manage several points of positive value out of the ground game on Saturday.
Pass Offense vs Iowa
Michigan Off +5, 15th, 2nd
Iowa Def –0, 57th, 6th
Michigan’s biggest advantage coming in will be passing against Iowa’s defense. The Hawkeye pass defense hasn’t been bad, but it is about as close to average as a group can be. Michigan has had three great games passing and two that have been subpar, including last week’s 3 interception outing. Iowa has only one great performance and that was against Iowa St.
Michigan’s pass offense still checks in at #15, even after last week. Look for the Denard and the receivers to bounce back for a potential big day through air if Michigan can find even a little success on the ground.
Rush Defense vs Iowa
Michigan Def –2, 92nd, 9th
Iowa Off +0, 54th, 6th
Michigan defensive backs : Iowa running backs ::
We wish the answer was Michigan pass defense : Iowa ground game. But unfortunately that hasn’t been the case. Michigan hasn’t found a solution to slowing down the pass but Iowa has found enough of a running game to survive. You’ll notice no breakout games from the Hawkeye crew but they haven’t exactly struggled either. Adam Robinson has been –1 on the season and is the worst back left on Michigan’s schedule.
Michigan was gashed last week in their worst performance to date. Michigan can not allow another big game on the ground this week but luckily Iowa doesn’t appear to have the horses for a big day. Should be slight advantage Hawkeyes but hopefully not any worse.
Pass Defense vs Iowa
Michigan Def –2, 81st, 10th
Iowa Off +4, 22nd, 3rd
Stanzi ball has been transformed in 2010. After the pick six disasters of last season, Stanzi has become an asset for his own team instead of the opposition. Arizona was the only below average performance on the season and the other three games were all solid, consistent outcomes.
Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and Marvin McNutt are the two primary targets. The two are combined +11 PAN on the season and their output is nearly equivalent to what Hemingway and Roundtree have done this year. The four are all grouped together at positions 5 through 8 in my Big Ten rankings.
The big advantage Michigan is that with as consistent as this group has been, they haven’t put up any monster games. Unless 2009 Stanzi makes a welcome appearance, Michigan should be glad to have this matchup end up anywhere less than a major victory for Iowa.
Special Teams vs Iowa
Over the last several games Michigan has done a good job of limiting their exposure to poor special teams. Iowa hasn’t done much of note on special teams yet this year outside of another poor showing in Arizona. I am guessing both teams would be content to let special teams play little to no role in the outcome Saturday.
Predictions Almost Certain to Cost You Money if Taken Seriously
Michigan 28 Iowa 27
There was certainly a correction in expectations last week, but as Brian noted, that doesn’t change the other data points we had. The defense is still bad, the offense wasn’t their usual spectacular selves last week but their resume to date is still outstanding. The offense is still #1 nationally in my rankings and the difference between Denard and the #2 QB nationally in my ratings (Cam Newton) is the same as the difference between Newton and #22, Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi.
Denard has very strong bounce back performance, this time against an elite defense and the defense limits two Iowa trips to field goals instead of touchdowns to provide the difference.
Elsewhere in the Big Ten
Michigan St 28 Illinois 22 – Another close but no cigar for [name redacted] against a quality Big Ten opponent
Indiana 35 Arkansas St 34 – Hoosier’s escape with an ugly victory against their best non-conference opponent
Purdue 26 Minnesota 21 – The schedule favors Purdue as the Boilermakers move to 2-0 in the Big Ten
Ohio St 23 Wisconsin 14 – And probably not as close as the score shows. Ohio St controls this one throughout. My numbers continue to place Wisconsin at the top of my overrated list.
Around the country
Auburn 35 Arkansas 28 – Cam Newton > Ryan Mallett. Newton, Martinez and of course Robinson all have big days and the rise of the mobile QB becomes the official theme of the 2010 football season until Boise St and TCU are 1 and 2 in the BCS standings and the world ends.
Follow me @The_Mathlete