Michigan Faces Biggest Challenge Yet, Defending The Big House Against Iowa – Detroit News Watch

No. 14 Iowa’s visit to No. 19 Michigan tops Big Ten schedule

Here’s what to watch in the Big Ten this week:

GAME OF THE WEEK

No. 14 Iowa at No. 19 Michigan

 

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN – SEPTEMBER 28: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the Michigan Wolverines looks on in the first half while playing the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Michigan Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

 

Michigan (3-1, 1-1) has yet to impress, never mind that 52-0 home win last week over a Rutgers team a day away from firing its coach. The Wolverines were a trendy pick to win the Big Ten East, and so far they’ve looked like the third- or fourth-best team in the division. This is a huge opportunity to get the season on track. Iowa (4-0, 1-0) has outscored its opponents by an average of 34-9 and has one of the most underrated quarterbacks in the country in Nate Stanley, who has thrown 136 passes without an interception since last season. The Hawkeyes’ defense has given up just four touchdowns in four games.

BEST MATCHUP

Ohio State defensive line vs. Michigan State offensive line

 

LINCOLN, NE – SEPTEMBER 28: Quarterback Justin Fields #1 of the Ohio State Buckeyes warms up before the game against the Nebraska Cornhuskers at Memorial Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Lincoln, Nebraska. (Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images)

 

The No. 4 Buckeyes lead the Big Ten with 4.8 sacks per game despite injury issues on the defensive line. Chase Young leads the way with a nation-high eight. The No. 25 Spartans have given up four sacks in five games, an impressive stat considering they attempt an average of 35 passes. But a run of injuries has put the offensive line at less than full strength for what figures to be the toughest game of the year.

FACTS AND FIGURES

 

COLUMBUS, OH – OCTOBER 1: B.J. Cunningham #3 of the Michigan State Spartans jumps up and catches a pass for a touchdown while being covered by Travis Howard #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes during the first quarter on October 1, 2011 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)

 

Michigan State has beaten Ohio State three times since 2011, most of any team in the Big Ten. … Iowa’s 644 yards of total offense against Middle Tennessee last week were the most by the Hawkeyes since they amassed 658 against Northern Iowa in 1997. … Wisconsin’s home game against Kent State will be the first in football between the schools. Kent State coach Sean Lewis played quarterback and tight end for Wisconsin from 2004-07. … Maryland (at Rutgers), which outscored its first two opponents 142-20, has been outscored 79-17 in its last two games. … Rutgers has been outscored 112-16 in its last three games. … Penn State (vs. Purdue) has won 10 straight against Big Ten West opponents. … Jack Plummer will make his second start at quarterback for Purdue in place of the injured Elijah Sindelar. He also started against TCU on Sept. 14 when Sindelar was recovering from a concussion. … Illinois has lost three straight at Minnesota since 2009.

LONG SHOT

Northwestern, 7 ½-point underdog at Nebraska

 

MADISON, WISCONSIN – SEPTEMBER 28: Aidan Smith #11 of the Northwestern Wildcats drops back to pass in the fourth quarter against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium on September 28, 2019 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

 

The Wildcats always play Nebraska tough and are 3-1 in Lincoln since the Cornhuskers joined the Big Ten in 2011. Whoever plays quarterback, Hunter Johnson or Aidan Smith, must do the unexpected and have a good day passing because the Wildcats have averaged fewer than 3.2 yards per rushing attempt in three of their four games. The defense is good enough to keep Northwestern in the game.

PLAYER TO WATCH

Minnesota QB Tanner Morgan

 

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – AUGUST 29: Tanner Morgan #2 of the Minnesota Gophers looks on before the game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits on August 29, 2018 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

 

Morgan completed 21 of 22 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns against Purdue last week and will be facing another porous pass defense in Illinois, which is allowing Big Ten-worst 8.1 yards per completion. Morgan is 8-2 as the starter, has completed 73 percent of his passes this season and his 11.6 yards per attempt ranks third in the nation. His passing efficiency rating of 202.10 trails only Jalen Hurts (Oklahoma), Joe Burrow (LSU) and Tua Tagovailoa (Alabama).

 

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