The No.3 Michigan Wolverines (9-0, 6-0) played one of their better games all year in a 59-3 romp over Maryland last Saturday in Ann Arbor. With the win, they continued to make their case for a chance to play in the College Football Playoff which is getting closer by the day. This week, however, the maize and blue will need to focus on getting their tenth win of the season against the Iowa Hawkeyes.
The Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-3) only seem to be showing remnants of the Big Ten West division champions that won their first twelve games a season ago. After loosing at home to Wisconsin and getting hammered by Penn State in Happy Valley the past two weeks, their hopes of just appearing in the Big Ten Championship Game are becoming slim.
The Iowa offense is led by senior quarterback C.J. Beathard who has completed 59.9% of his passes for 1584 yards and 13 touchdowns this season.
Unlike the Wolverines, the Hawkeyes have a very focused running game with only two running backs getting the ball on a consistent basis. They include junior Akrum Wadley, who has ran for 664 yards and eight touchdowns on 99 carries, and senior LeShun Daniels Jr., who has accumulated 642 yards and 6 touchdowns on 129 carries. Only one other running back, Toks Akinribade, has more than two carries all season.
While Iowa may not be stacked with runners, they certainly have quite a few receivers to keep an eye on. The Hawkeyes have four with at least 19 receptions for at least 220 yards. They include Riley McCarron, George Kittle, Jerminic Smith and, once again, Akrum Wadley.
While the maize and blue are on offense, they’ll have to keep an eye on defensive lineman Jaleel Johnson. His 5.5 sacks are good for fourth in the Big Ten.
Players to Watch
Jourdan Lewis–Michigan may have received a lot of acclaim in their win against the Terps. However the 289 passing yards that Maryland racked up were the most that the Wolverines have allowed all season. It won’t get any easier with the crop of receivers that Iowa has. That’s where Jourdan Lewis comes in.
His dominance and leadership are a big reason why the Wolverines are where they are right now. If he can continue to display that against these receivers, he will only better himself and the secondary he leads. The defense as a whole will also need to control the outside of the field, which is how Maryland got majority of their yardage.
Wilton Speight–Although Michigan’s secondary may not have been at their best a week ago, Wilton Speight had the game of his career. He set a Michigan record for most passing yards in the first half and threw for a career-best 362 yards in just three quarters. It’s awfully interesting to consider how big a factor he can be if he continues to show similar prowess from here on out.
Jehu Chesson-To some degree, Chesson had been somewhat underwhelming this season, with Amara Darboh and Jake Butt getting most of the targets from Wilton Speight. However, the senior receiver erupted for his best game all season on Saturday hauling in five receptions for a season-best 112 yards and a touchdown. With teach game becoming more and more important, it will be a welcome sign to see a resurgent Chesson as a viable option to get things going on offense.
The game will be broadcast this Saturday, November 12 at 8 p.m. on ABC.