IOWA CITY, Iowa — In the eyes of many, Saturday night’s game between No. 3 Michigan and Iowa was supposed to be a showdown between Big Ten divisional powers.
Last year, Iowa won 12 games and competed in the Rose Bowl. Michigan won 10 games, including the Citrus Bowl. Both were highly ranked early in the season. But of the teams, the Wolverines (9-0, 6-0 Big Ten) were the only one to live up to their preseason prognostications. Iowa (5-4, 3-3) has lost three straight home games and lost at Penn State last week 41-14 — the Hawkeyes’ first true road defeat since 2014.
If Iowa has a trump card in its first meeting with Michigan since 2013, it’s their recent home-field advantage against the Wolverines. The Hawkeyes have beaten Michigan in their last three meetings at Kinnick Stadium, including 24-21 three years ago in the coldest game in stadium history. Michigan holds a 41-14-4 overall advantage, but Iowa is 4-1 in the last five meetings.
Iowa vs. Michigan game time, details
Date: Saturday, Nov. 12
Time: 8:12 p.m. (ET) / 7:12 p.m. (CT) kickoff
Location: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
Weather: 47 degrees and cloudless at kickoff
The line: Michigan is a 21.5-point favorite
What TV channel is Iowa vs. Michigan on?
ABC will televise the 60th meeting between the teams in a series that began in 1900.
How can I watch Iowa vs. Michigan online?
ESPN3.com and the WatchESPN app will provide live streaming of the game. Click here for information.
How can I listen to Iowa vs. Michigan on the radio?
You can listen on Sirius/XM channel 84. In Iowa, 600 AM (WMT-Cedar Rapids), 1040 AM (WHO-Des Moines) and 800 AM (KXIC-Iowa City) are the flagship radio stations. Click here for other Iowa radio affiliates. In Michigan, 950 AM (WWJ-Detroit) is the flagship radio station. Click here for Michigan radio affiliates. The TuneIn app provides radio coverage from each team.
Who is calling the game for ABC?
Chris Fowler handles the play-by-play, Kirk Herbstreit provides the color and Sam Ponder adds flavor as the sideline reporter.
Iowa vs. Michigan keys to the game
Can the Iowa offense pose a threat to Michigan’s vaunted defense?
Despite its overall porous statistics, Iowa does have three offensive players capable of making game-changing plays in QB C.J. Beathard and RBs Akrum Wadley and LeShun Daniels. Even after last week’s subpar performance at Penn State, Wadley (seventh) and Daniels (10th) still rank among the league’s top 10 rushers.
With a depleted receiving corps, Beathard’s effectiveness has waned but he’s still a fighter. He’ll need every bit of spunk he has to move the ball against Michigan, which ranks first nationally in total defense (246.3 yards per game) and points allowed (10.7) and is 10th in rushing defense (107.4 yards per game).
Will the Wolverines run all over the Hawkeyes?
Michigan’s ground attack averages 251.7 yards per game to rank second in the Big Ten (15th nationally). The Wolverines have a committee approach to the backfield with four different players rushing for more than 400 yards. De’Veon Smith leads the team with 564 yards but all four average at least 5.2 yards carry. Then there’s Khalid Hill, who has 34 yards this season but 9 touchdowns on the ground. Additionally, running back Karan Higdon won’t be forgotten by Iowa fans along Kinnick Stadium’s notoriously tight sidelines. Higdon decommitted from Iowa on Signing Day in 2015.
Iowa’s run defense has fluctuated from bad to good to ugly. The Hawkeyes allowed more than 182 yards through its first five games, the program’s worst number since 2000. Then Iowa rebounded for three weeks before completely giving way at Penn State for 359 yards, the third-worst day under coach Kirk Ferentz.
The game atmosphere
Kinnick Stadium was sold out well in advance for this game, and few places are as rowdy as Iowa City at night. This is only Michigan’s second trip away from the state and only its second game at an unfriendly environment (Michigan State two weeks ago). While fired up, Iowa’s fans also have witnessed three straight home losses. If the Hawkeyes struggle early, the fans could turn in a negative direction fairly quickly.
Many Iowa fans recall the 1985 meeting between No. 1 Iowa against No. 2 Michigan. The Michigan quarterback that day was current Wolverines coach Jim Harbaugh, who threw for 55 yards. The Hawkeyes won 12-10 on the game’s final play in what most consider the greatest game in Kinnick Stadium history.
“The first thing that always comes to mind for that ballgame was just the environment,” said Ferentz, who was Iowa’s offensive line coach in 1985. “It’s one I’ll never forget, right from going out for pregame warmup. It was just unbelievable in there.”