Posted by Adam Jacobi
MICHIGAN WILL WIN IF: It takes away the deep pass. The most efficient passer in the Big Ten, obviously, is Wisconsin's Russell Wilson; Wilson actually leads the nation with a ridiculous 196.95 rating. Second? That would be Iowa's James Vandenberg. Seriously. Vandenberg's got 17 touchdown passes and only four picks on the year, and his efficiency numbers are buoyed by 10 of those touchdowns coming from over 20 yards out. Last week, Minnesota bottled up the Iowa passing offense and taking away those deep passes (often at great expense to the rushing defense, which ceded over 250 yards to Marcus Coker), but at the end of the day Iowa only had 21 points and a loss to show for its efforts.IOWA WILL WIN IF: It leaves the bad defense on the road. Iowa has historically been known for a stout defense, especially under DC Norm Parker since he and Kirk Ferentz arrived in Iowa City in 1999. This year, though, Iowa has struggled mightily -- especially in road games. Away from Kinnick, Iowa is 0-3, with losses to Iowa State, Penn State, and Minnesota -- and the defense has faltered late in all three games. Moreover, none of those three teams have a quarterback who even approximates the skill that Denard Robinson brings to the table, and Iowa's going to have a nightmare of a time forcing Robinson out of his comfort zone, which is "breaking long runs and incinerating all who oppose him." Certainly, Iowa doesn't have the defensive athleticism to keep up with Robinson. It must, however, bring the defensive scheming and intensity to at least limit Robinson's damage.
X-FACTOR: The Kinnick Stadium crowd. The Hawkeye corner of the Internet is a dark and lonely place right now after Iowa left Floyd of Rosedale in Minneapolis for the second year in a row. If that lack of enthusiasm bleeds through to gameday and Robinson finds a muted crowd to greet him -- or shuts the fans up himself with an early long touchdown or two -- the likelihood of Michigan's offense sputtering and making mistakes lessens greatly. If, however, the fans have a short memory and try to disrupt the Michigan offense, Iowa may stand a good chance of keeping pace with the Wolverines -- especially if the Hawkeye offense does its part early too.