Nov. 15, 2012
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- With a game looming against its first ranked foe of the season -- No. 23 Michigan -- the University of Iowa football team is stressing opportunity.
"We have a really good opportunity this week against a fantastic opponent," said UI senior defensive lineman Steve Bigach. "It's Michigan... at Michigan.
"We have a good chance to go out there and put one out on Saturday. We haven't had that the last couple of weeks, and that's always the goal."
For the fourth consecutive week, the Hawkeye defense doesn't have a definitive answer as to who will line up under center for the opposition. Will it be Denard Robinson or Devin Gardner at quarterback?
Robinson, who has missed the last two games because of injury, has 946 rushing yards and 1,319 passing yards with 15 touchdowns in 2012. With one more touchdown pass, Robinson will become the first player in Big Ten history to post 50 passing and 40 rushing touchdowns.
"We're going through a bump (right now), and we're going to do whatever we can to get out of it. I wouldn't rather play anybody but Michigan and Nebraska the last two weeks. That starts with Michigan (on Saturday)."
UI senior quarterback James Vandenberg
Gardner has started the last two games for the Wolverines, completing 28-of-47 attempts for 520 yards with four touchdowns. He accounted for four touchdowns (two rushing, two passing) in Michigan's come-from-behind overtime victory over Northwestern last week, which led to him being named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 10.
"I don't know if Denard is going to go, but we have to prepare as he is," said Bigach. "The other guy is good as well. We have to focus on improving ourselves. The kind of performances we've put on the last few weeks isn't good enough to beat anybody, let alone the University of Michigan."
"We should be used to it (facing multiple quarterbacks)," said junior linebacker Anthony Hitchens. "Denard is going to make plays, so we have to eliminate plays. We have to find a way to get a win. We haven't been doing that lately, so we have to do something different."
The Hawkeyes know they are going to get Michigan's best shot. Iowa has won the last three games in the series, meaning the Michigan seniors have never beaten an Iowa team. Saturday is also Senior Day for the Wolverines.
"There are emotions that come with that," said UI senior quarterback James Vandenberg of facing the Wolverines on Senior Day. "I expect them to be fully ready for us. They're not going to overlook us. We know we're going to get their best shot, so it's going to be a challenge."
Knowing full and well that the team needs two victories to become bowl eligible, Vandenberg is looking forward to the challenge of facing consecutive ranked opponents to close out the regular season.
"We're going through a bump (right now), and we're going to do whatever we can to get out of it," said Vandenberg. "I wouldn't rather play anybody but Michigan and Nebraska the last two weeks. That starts with Michigan (on Saturday)."
The game is scheduled to begin at 11:01 a.m. (CT) inside Michigan Stadium. The game will be televised on ESPN (HD) with Dave Pasch, Brian Griese and Jenn Brown calling the action.