By just about every metric, the No. 4 Michigan football team will face its toughest test of the season Saturday afternoon, when the Wolverines travel to Iowa City to take on an Iowa team with a stingy defense and another top-five upset on its mind (Noon, FOX).
So what makes Iowa (1-0 Big Ten, 3-1 overall) such a dangerous opponent, and how can Michigan (1-0, 4-0) leave Kinnick Stadium with a win? We take an in-depth look at the Hawkeyes below. We look at key personnel, Iowa’s outlook, Michigan’s keys and pick a winner in the five key phases of Saturday’s matchup.
Iowa passing offense vs. Michigan pass defense
Spencer Petras — 48-for-94 passing, 524 passing yards, one touchdown, two interceptions
Sam LaPorta (TE) — 28 targets, 16 receptions, 154 yards, 53 yards after catch, two forced missed tackles, three drops
Arland Bruce IV — 18 targets, 10 receptions, 132 yards, one touchdown, 32 yards after catch, one forced missed tackle
Luke Lachey (TE) — 7 targets, 5 receptions, 55 yards, 12 yards after contact
Gavin Williams (RB) — 6 targets, 5 receptions, 44 yards, 46 yards after contact
Leshon Williams (RB) — 5 targets, 4 receptions, 42 yards, 33 yards after contact, one forced missed tackle
Offensive line — 9 sacks and 38 pressures allowed in 612 collective pass-blocking snaps (6.21 pressure rate allowed)
What Iowa brings
Even by Iowa standards, this Hawkeyes passing attack has struggled. Petras has struggled to progress from last season as Iowa’s pass-protection has gotten worse, while injuries and departures from wide receivers have made the Hawkeyes’ receiving game particularly tight end- and running back-heavy. That isn’t a bad strategy to take — LaPorta is a pretty dynamic tight end capable of lining up anywhere on the field and making players, while the other three have pretty good hands — but does condense the Michigan defense’s homework assignments for the week. Petras is brutal in coverage — his passer efficiency rating is 116.2 when in a clean pocket, but drops to 42.9 when under pressure.
Keys for Michigan
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