Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Iowa-Michigan: A battle on the ground
By Gregg Found
Three notes heading into Saturday's Iowa-Michigan game, all dealing with the battle on the ground.
The nation's leading rusher is actually a rusher
For the first time since Week 1, a running back and not a quarterback leads the country in rush yards per game. After Denard Robinson was held to 86 yards on the ground against Michigan State, Oregon RB LaMichael James takes over the throne. Robinson was held under 100 yards for the first time this season despite carrying the ball 21 times -- more than in any of his previous three games.
In between a Hawk and a Denard-place
Forgive the play on words off the classic phrase, but this game will directly match up two teams' strengths. There's more than a 200-yard discrepancy between the Michigan offense and Iowa defense in rushing yardage per game. Both teams rank in the top six in FBS in their respective category, and both are adept at finding, or denying, trips to the end zone. Iowa hasn't allowed an opponent to rush for more than 80 yards in any game this season. To put that in perspective, Denard Robinson singlehandedly surpassed the 80-yard mark before the first quarter was even halfway done two weeks ago against Indiana.
A streak meets its nemesis
Iowa enters this game riding a streak of 21 straight quarters without allowing a rushing touchdown. That streak dates back to January's Orange Bowl against Georgia Tech. Not only is Iowa the only team to not allow a rushing touchdown, only three teams (Colorado, West Virginia, Wisconsin) have allowed just one.
But Michigan is where streaks like this go to die. Last year, the Hawkeyes entered the Michigan game riding a longer streak -- 33 straight quarters -- without allowing a rushing touchdown. The Wolverines promptly broke that streak in the first quarter, then tacked on two more rushing touchdowns later in the game.