WMU Preview/Prediction

WMU Preview/Prediction

Hawkeye Insider breaks down this weekend's game against Western Michigan and offers up a prediction for Iowa's final non-conference game.

Iowa CITY, Iowa - The Iowa players aren't buying into this Saturday's contest with Western Michigan being a trap game. The Hawkeyes are coming off of a big win at Iowa State and head to border-rival Minnesota on Sept. 28.

"Western Michigan will get the same attention (as ISU and Minnesota)," defensive tackle Carl Davis said. "They played two Big Ten teams and they played them well. They're not afraid to play Big Ten teams."

The Broncos fell at Northwestern, 38-17, last week and dropped a 26-13 decision at Michigan State in the opener. In between those contest was a 27-23 home loss to FCS Nicholls State.

"Their middle game (Nicholls) was just kind of one of those games where I don't know if there's an explanation for it," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. "They probably burned that tape and kept moving on as one of those deals.

"But they made it tough for their first opponent (MSU) to run the football. Then last week you're playing an option team that is so dissimilar, their style of attack is so dissimilar to ours that it's kind of a little bit of a tough preparation for us right now. We're looking at the tapes trying to measure up with what they'll do against us because we look a little different than the teams they've played."

Look for Iowa to lean in a running game that has carried it through three games. Northwestern put up 332 yards on the ground last week against the Broncos.

"They're Iowa," Fleck told the Western Herald. "Very simple, they're Iowa. They're gonna run the ball and they're not afraid to tell you that. I've got a ton of respect for coach Ferentz.  They play tough football. They play physical football. It's Iowa. We know what to expect."

Western Michigan hails from the MAC, which also is home to Northern Illinois, which beat Iowa, 30-27, in the opener at Kinnick Stadium. Central Michigan won in Iowa City last year and the Broncos are 2-0 in two trips to Iowa since 2000.

"Believe it or not, they played really good football," Ferentz said. "I've been saying that for a while. There are a lot of really good players in the MAC."

RECORDS, RANKINGS

Iowa is 2-1. The Broncos are 0-3. Neither team is ranked.

HISTORY:

Western Michigan has won the two meetings between the two schools.

THE LINE:

The Las Vegas Caesars lists Iowa as a 16.5-point favorite as of Wednesday morning. It opened at 17. Several off-shore books had the total at either 49.5 or 50.

TWO TRENDS

-The Broncos are 3-8 ATS in their last 11 vs. Big Ten.

-The Hawkeyes are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 non-conference games..

KEY MATCH-UPS

Iowa CB B.J. Lowery v. WMU WR Corey Davis: Lowery delivered the highlight reel play in Saturday's ISU win, going up to snag a one-handed interception with the Cyclones driving. He also experienced some downs on the evening. Davis leads all FBS freshmen nationally with 324 receiving yards in his first year on campus. He has caught 21 passes, including two touchdowns. He caught eight balls for 96 yards and a score against a tough Michigan State defense in the opener.

Iowa RB Mark Weisman v. WMU MLB Kyle Lark: Albeit with a completely different attack than what Iowa runs, Northwestern rambled for 332 yards on the ground against the Broncos last week. Weisman comes into the contest ranked third in the FBS in rushing yards and leads the division in carries. Lark started the final six games of last season at outside linebacker and is in his first season as the man in the middle.

INJURIES

WMU - Jaime Wilson (ankle, out), Terry Easmon (knee, out).

Iowa - Jordan Lomax (hamstring, questionable), Reese Fleming (leg, questionable), Michael Malloy (undisclosed, doubtful).

POINTS OF INTEREST

WMU

-Saturday will mark the Broncos 23rd game against a Big Ten opponent since 1996, the most of any FBS team.

-Western Michigan has already played and lost to Big Ten opponents Northwestern (38-17) and Michigan State (26-13) this season.

-Broncos linebacker Mike Jones is a transfer who graduated from Michigan.

-WMU's P.J. Fleck is the youngest head coach in the FBS.

-The Broncos have allowed just one passing touchdown through their first three games of the season.

-WMU Assistant Kyle Hoke is the nephew of Michigan Head Coach Brady Hoke.

-The Broncos entered the 2013 season with the seventh most underclassmen (31) on their depth chart among FBS schools nationally. Virginia (34) topped that list.

-Northwestern failed to record a sack against WMU last week.

Iowa

-Iowa has run 80-plus plays in all three games this season, marking the first time under coach Kirk Ferentz the Hawkeyes have taken 80-plus snaps in three consecutive games.

-Through three games, Iowa's offensive line has paved the way for 718 rushing yards on 160 attempts. In Iowa's last two games, both victories, the Hawkeyes rushed 118 times for 514 yards.

-Sophomore QB Jake Rudock has completed a pass to 15 different Hawkeyes this season, but Kevonte Martin-Manley has emerged as Iowa's premier receiving threat. Martin-Manley has 19 receptions for 163 yards, more than three times the amount of catches and receiving yards of Iowa's No. 2 target, C.J. Fiedorowicz.

-Senior kicker Mike Meyer has made a school-record 91 consecutive PAT attempts, the eighth longest streak in Big Ten Conference history. That active streak ranks fourth in the nation (Baylor's Aaron Jones, 125; Northwestern's Jeff Budzien 116; Michigan's Brendan Gibbons, 114).

-Iowa has eight players on its 2013 roster whose father played for the Hawkeyes. WR Jordan Cotton (Marshall in 1984-87), OL Cole Croston (Dave in 1984-86), OL Mitch Keppy (Myron in 1986-87), LS Tyler Kluver (Todd in 1986-87), TE George Kittle (Bruce in 1977-80), TE Peter Pekar (Jim in 1980-81), OL Richard Pryor (Richard in 1984-86) and DB Sean Skradis (Bryan in 1977-81). Additionally, freshman linebacker Luke Lindahl's grandfather is former Hawkeye Wally Hilgenberg.

-Senior linebackers Anthony Hitchens and Christian Kirksey ranks first and second in tackles with 31 and 28, respectively.

-Punter Connor Kornbrath has knocked 11 of his 18 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line.

PREDICTION

Western Michigan is rebuilding under first-year head coach P.J. Fleck. Its game notes state that it came into the season with 31 underclassmen on its two-deep, which ranked seventh nationally.

It doesn't bode well that the Broncos struggle against the run. Iowa is riding its rushing game in the early season behind a physical offensive line.

WMU does throw the ball pretty well and that plays into an area of concern for the Iowa defense. If the Hawkeyes continue to break down in the secondary and/or struggle with mounting a consistent pass rush, the Broncos receivers are a group that can make them pay.

This really does come down to Iowa, however. Western Michigan isn't on the same level as Northern Illinois and its a team the Hawkeyes should handle relatively easily at this stage of the season if they are improving.

SCORE: IOWA 31, Western Michigan 16

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