Last week it was Michigan’s defense that was tested against a touted Maryland offense. This week it will flip with Michigan’s offense facing a tough task against Iowa’s vaunted defense. Here are three players that could change the game with standout performances on Saturday.
1. QB J.J. McCarthy
Any good offense starts and ends with the quarterback, and Michigan will need a good performance from McCarthy to keep the ball moving. Iowa’s defense is good at basically everything, but their run defense is especially stout. Their pass defense, however, has shown some cracks, with Rutgers throwing for 300 yards on them last weekend. It would help Michigan greatly to score early on Iowa and make their impotent offense try to play catch-up all game.
McCarthy will also need to avoid turnovers that could flip the game in Iowa’s favor. Their defense has forced seven through four games, including picking off Rutgers twice last Saturday and forcing five fumbles throughout the season. Protecting the ball will be huge in avoiding an upset.
2. WR Ronnie Bell
This selection goes hand-in-hand with the McCarthy choice above. Bell has slid right back into his role as the offense’s top target, leading the team in receptions and yards. His trustworthiness will be important to McCarthy as he can provide a safety blanket when things go haywire. Finding Bell in the slot to move the chains on third downs will be essential for Michigan to keep drives alive and earn as many scoring opportunities as possible.
3. P Brad Robbins
Iowa is known for perennial excellence in punting which allows them to pin opponents deep and keep less pressure off their offense. If this game turns into a slugfest, Michigan will have to rely on Robbins to provide that same role for the visitors. Robbins could provide valuable field position that ends up shortening the field for Michigan’s offense and getting them closer to the end zone.