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Discussion: Will the success of last year’s road opener repeat itself this season?

A year ago a ranked Michigan team hit the road to take on a tough Big Ten West foe. A year later, they face a similar threat. Can the Wolverines reign supreme once more?

Michigan v Wisconsin Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

It’s another week of Michigan football that echoes a game from a year ago. It’s the same slot and same necessity to win. Next up is the Wolverines’ first road game of the season. They head to Iowa City to take on the Iowa Hawkeyes in a rematch of last year’s Big Ten Championship Game.

However, if this feels reminiscent of a game from a year ago, you would be right. Yes, Michigan played Iowa last season, but that was at a neutral site with different implications. The Wolverines, a year ago, went out on the road to take on Wisconsin. It was similar in that it was a must-win scenario and a road game Michigan hadn’t won in some time. This week we will look at this game to see what Michigan has to do to get the win this weekend.

A year ago in 2021, Michigan was going out on the road to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. The Wolverines had not won a game at Camp Randall in nearly two decades. Wisconsin was in a desperate grab to reclaim their season and Michigan was looking to snap a road game drought to stay perfect. What went right for Michigan to get the win?

Michigan dominated the Badgers with their running game that day, rushing for 112 yards to Wisconsin’s 43. Michigan was able to throw for 253 yards and had a positive turnover differential. Safe to say with these same factors, Michigan can win this Saturday.

However, the Badgers were already down two games by the time Michigan came to town, which is a much different place than the Hawkeyes are at now. Iowa is currently 3-1, with a lone loss to rival Iowa State. While they have had difficulty capturing wins with a lagging offense, Iowa has been able to meet success with a pretty dominant defense.

The Hawkeyes are currently sixth across FBS schools in total defense and rank first in the Big Ten in scoring defense. Comparatively, the Wolverines check in at tenth in the conference in scoring defense and eighth overall total defense across FBS teams.

Once more, Michigan hits the road ranked with playoff implications at the back of their minds. The last time the Wolverines played an unranked Iowa on the road was back in 2016. We will look here to see what went wrong and determine what Michigan needs to avoid in order to beat Iowa.

The Iowa Hawkeyes stunned Michigan with an upset loss 14-13, where a late field goal forced Michigan’s first loss of the season. Now, here in 2022, Michigan faces a similar predicament. But what did Iowa do to upset Michigan six years ago?

First was eliminating the ground game, allowing Michigan to only rush for 98 yards. The Wolverines didn’t fare any better through the air, only throwing 103 yards. To add further salt to the wound, Michigan committed two turnovers while being called for 48 penalty yards. It was a sloppy showing by the Wolverines and the Hawkeyes took advantage. What are the chances you think this could occur again given Iowa’s defense?

I think if Michigan can play as clean as possible while getting the momentum going from their running room, they should be able to beat Iowa once more. On the defensive side, if Michigan can replicate what other teams have done, i.e. keep Iowa’s offense under 200 total yards, they can force Iowa off the field quite frequently. Both scenarios are entirely plausible, but maybe it’s the superstition that has us thinking differently.

Iowa has won their last four games at home against Michigan. They have played the Wolverines 14 times when Michigan was ranked in the top five nationally. They have won three of those contests, the most recent being 2016. Does this year’s Iowa team have what it takes to pull off the upset once again? Or will Michigan snap a nearly two decade’s long losing streak at Kinnick Stadium?

Michigan currently sits as an 11-point favorite; I believe Michigan has all the makings to head into Iowa City and beat the Hawkeyes, as long as they play similarly to as they did a year ago in a much similar situation. I think they are fully capable of avoiding the upset, but what do you think?

Now the floor is yours. Will Saturday pan out like last year’s first Big Ten West road game? Or will Iowa pull off the upset? Share with us your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!