One of Week 5's most interesting matchups is a rematch of last season's Big Ten Championship Game as No. 4 Michigan travels to face Iowa. And this season this game carries major conference title game implications for the representatives of each division. While the Hawkeyes have come under scrutiny for their lackluster offense, their defense remains elite, and the matchup presents the most significant test yet for new Michigan starting quarterback J.J. McCarthy.
The sophomore will be making his fourth career start and first on the road after beating out veteran Cade McNamara for the job earlier this season. Iowa has allowed just two touchdowns to opposing offenses through four games and should be motivated to seek redemption for last season's 42-3 loss to the Wolverines in the league title game.
Michigan has looked capable of matching the accomplishments of last season's squad through four games, but the Wolverines did find themselves in a close game with Maryland at home last week before pulling out a 34-27 win. Going on the road for the first time into what should be a hostile environment will force Michigan to put its best foot forward and avoid the types of miscues that could give Iowa the energy that has been missing during its uninspiring start to the season.
Michigan vs. Iowa: Need to know
Tough venue: Iowa has won the last four meetings between these team in Iowa City, Iowa. You have to go back to 2005 in order to find the last time the Wolverines won at Kinnick Stadium. The last time Michigan played at Iowa was in 2016, when the No. 2 Wolverines lost 14-13. In total, Iowa is 5-3 against top-five foes at home during coach Kirk Ferentz's 24-year tenure.
Something must give: Michigan ranks No. 1 nationally in scoring offense at 50 points per game, while Iowa ranks first in scoring defense at 5.8 points per game. The Wolverines' offensive output has been helped by the inferiority of its first three opponents. Likewise, Iowa is yet to play an offense with this many weapons. The contrasting strengths makes for an intriguing battle.
Anoma's emergence: Ferentz said this week that Michigan's defense looks "like an NFL defense." While that may be true, the Wolverines lost two of their best pass rushers from last season's team to the NFL Draft in Aidan Hutchinson and David Ojabo. In the effort to replace their production, Michigan brought in former Tennessee-Martin and Alabama defensive end Eyabi Okie during mid-August. The former five-star prospect, who also spent time at Houston, has a checkered past. He's been a productive addition so far, though, logging 42 snaps in Michigan's first four games, including 11 during last week's win over Maryland. In that contest, Anoma picked up a couple of quarterback hurries. It's been a long journey for the former Class of 2018 prospect, but Anoma is finally carving out a role on college football's biggest stage.
How to watch Michigan vs. Iowa live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 1 | Time: 12 p.m. ET
Location: Kinnick Stadium -- Iowa City, Iowa
TV: Fox | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
Michigan vs. Iowa prediction, picks
When these teams met last December in the Big Ten Championship Game, Michigan thoroughly trounced Iowa 42-3. The jury is out on whether the Wolverines are as good as last season, but Iowa appears to have regressed. The Hawkeyes have scored just four offensive touchdowns in four games and now face an opponent that is far superior to any they have seen yet. Michigan gave up four touchdown drives of 70 yards or more in a 34-27 win over Maryland last week, but the Terrapins are far better equipped offensively than Iowa. Even if the Hawkeyes are successful in slowing Michigan's offense, it's hard to see them reaching double-digits without some ridiculous turnover luck. The Wolverines should cover this spread with any score in the 20s. Pick: Michigan -10.5
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