Showdown At The Big House
TE Dallas Clark (Allsport)
TE Dallas Clark (Allsport)

Posted Oct 24, 2002


Iowa faces their biggest game of the season on the biggest stage-the infamous Big House. The record crowd for an Iowa road game just established a few weeks ago at Happy Valley is likely to be broken as 110,000 fans are predicted for this Big Ten showdown. Both teams are smelling roses. ESPN will televise the game to a national television audience. Will this game be Iowa’s entrée to the next level?

Let’s see how they stack up:

Quarterback

Michigan: John Navarre had the unenviable task last year of replacing sure fire #1 NFL draft pick Drew Henson. When Henson left for the Yankees he left Blue in the lurch. His topsy turvey performance last year unfortunately included directing a come from behind win against the Hawks at Kinnick. Although his performance this year is better, he is far from drawing the raves of his predecessor.

Iowa: Brad Banks is coming into his own. His mobility will be tested here by the always-quick Michigan ‘D’. Will Brad’s feet as well as his arm win this game?

Advantage: IOWA. Banks is a candidate for Big Ten honors.

Running Backs

Michigan: Chris Perry is a big power back than can scoot well enough to make big gains.

Iowa: Fred Russell is coming home to play in front of numerous friends and family members. This is his stage.

Advantage: IOWA.

Receivers

Michigan: The good news is that Marquis Walker is gone. The bad news is that he was replaced by a Blue crew of tall swift receivers that look like his clones, especially Braylon Edwards. Bennie Joppru is a typical great Blue tight end.

Iowa: Viewed as a position of weakness in the pre-season, it has become a position of strength. The Hawkeye posse, CJ Jones, Ed Hinkel, Maurice Brown and Clinton Solomon, have proven to be an excellent WR corps. Now that TE Dallas Clark is healthy, can All-American honors be forthcoming?

Advantage: EVEN.

Offensive Line

Michigan: This is a usual motley crew of Michigan linemen, albeit a notch or two below last year’s group.

Iowa: The best line in the Big Ten.

Advantage: Iowa.

Defensive Line

Michigan: Always strength for Blue and this year is no exception. Although there are a few injuries here, don’t look for any drop off.

Iowa: Playing better as the season progresses. Howard Hodges and Matt Roth are applying great pressure on opposing QB’s. They must do it here, too.

Advantage: MICHIGAN.

Linebackers

Michigan: The typical great group of athletes. Victor Hobson is bucking for A-A honors.

Iowa: A few injuries here may be costly, as the corps has been depleted already.

Advantage: MICHIGAN.

Defensive Backs

Michigan: Not to be scary, but this is the best part of the Michigan defense. They could bring Halloween fright a little early for Iowa receivers.

Iowa: The small Iowa corners must cover the tall, swift Blue receivers without giving up too much ground. Will the play be aggressive like against Michigan State or soft like against Iowa State?

Advantage: MICHIGAN.

Special Teams

Michigan: Wolverine placekicking is far below their standards.

Iowa: PK Nate Kaeding is the best in the country. Bradley must punt well against a ferocious rush.

Advantage: IOWA. A FG battle is to the Hawks advantage.

Intangibles:

Michigan: The home field and tougher schedule are in Michigan’s favor.

Iowa: Hawks need to win this game to get to the next level. The heartbreak loss at Iowa last year has the Hawks looking for R-E-V-E-N-G-E!

Advantage: IOWA

The ESPN National telecast begins at 11 a.m. The game may not be the chess match predicted by pundits. Brad Banks has the stage to prove himself to all. Will Ken O’Keefe turn Brad loose to run and sling causing the offense to sing? Hopefully, he will. Iowa has scored 44 touchdowns in regulation. Is that an omen for a big day from Dallas Clark? Although many predict that Nate Kaeding will determine this game, I predict an early Halloween party where the major participants will wear Black & Gold.

HAWKS 27 WOLVERINES 14



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