Michigan Patterson Returns Football

Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson has completed 67-of-113 passes for 905 yards and six touchdowns as he prepares to lead the Wolverines into Saturday's game against Iowa.

Four things the football teams from Michigan and Iowa can do to experience success in Saturday's 11 a.m. game at Michigan Stadium:

Michigan (3-1, 1-1)

1. File a flight plan

Despite a veteran offensive line, the Wolverines rushing attack has been pedestrian by Michigan standards.

Freshman Zach Charonnet leads the Wolverines on the ground, averaging 54.5 of the 130.5 yards Michigan is gaining on average from its rushing attack.

Michigan is averaging 3.5 yards per carry, reflecting in a rushing attack which ranks 10th in the Big Ten, a statistical neighborhood the Wolverines rarely visit.

Michigan's ability to move quarterback Shea Patterson out of the pocket and work with strong receiving corps will be to the Wolverines' advantage.

Through four games, Michigan is averaging 261.5 passing yards per game, with Ronnie Bell, Tarik Black and Nico Collins averaging between 51-65 receiving yards per game.

Black at 6-foot-3 and Collins at 6-4 have the size to give Iowa some match-up issues and return of a healthy Donovan Peoples-Jones adds to the skill the Wolverines have to work with.

3. Hold onto the ball

Michigan improved in this area during last week's 52-0 rout of Rutgers, but turnovers have been problematic for the Wolverines.

In its first three games of the season, Michigan turned the ball over on its first possession of the game.

That's helped the Wolverines pile up a sizable collection of mistakes. Only Rutgers and Purdue have a turnover margin worse than the -1.5 per game Michigan has mustered.

The Wolverines have lost seven of their 12 fumbles and have had three passes intercepted.

3. Be big on D

Iowa will present Michigan's defensive front with a sizable test.

The Wolverines have recorded seven sacks through four games, ahead of only Iowa's five and Rutgers' four among Big Ten peers, and the ability of Michigan ends Kwity Paye and Aidan Hutchinson to get around the Hawkeye ends will have a lot to say about how effective Iowa's offense can be.

Michigan's returning experience on defense is on the back end where cornerback Lavert Hill and safety Josh Metellus have each started 29 games and have combined for seven career interceptions.

4. Embrace survival mode

With a 35-14 loss at Wisconsin already positioning Michigan one game back in the Big Ten East standings behind Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State, the Wolverines will already be in must-win mode by the time the Hawkeye team buses arrive at Michigan Stadium.

Wolverines players were talking that "must-win'' mantra even before last week's win against Rutgers, but with the Buckeyes, Nittany Lions and Spartans still on the league schedule and a home game against Notre Dame also remaining, this game does fall into the must-win category for Michigan.

Iowa (4-0, 1-0)

1. Establish the run

Iowa has done a solid job of balancing its offense this season, gaining 870 yards on the ground and 990 through the air during its unbeaten start.

The Hawkeyes' success has started with the cohesion that has allowed Iowa to average 5.2 yards per carry on the ground, gains that are opening the way for Nate Stanley to have some success in play action.

Mekhi Sargent, Toren Young and Tyler Goodson are all averaging over 50 yards per game on the ground, an effort led by the 74.8 yards Sargent is averaging.

The return of Alaric Jackson and last week's return of Cole Banwart to the Hawkeye offensive line is providing additional strength to a group has helped Iowa average 6.3 yards per play.

2. Be clock watchers

Only two teams in college football are holding onto the ball more than Iowa has so far this season.

The Hawkeyes are helping themselves by averaging 36 minutes, 8 seconds of possession time per game, a difference-making 12-minute advantage over opponents that is not only helping Iowa average 33.5 points per game but is working to wear down opposing defenses.

The latter has helped the Hawkeyes outscore their opponents 74-20 during the second half of games so far this season.

3. Stay salty on D

Shea Patterson brings a run-pass threat to the quarterback position for Michigan, completing 67-of-113 passes for 905 yards and six touchdowns and rushing 24 times through four games.

He'll be the next test for an Iowa defense which has recorded just five sacks so this season but has impacted the work of opposing quarterbacks with 14 quarterback hurries in addition to intercepting three passes.

Growing the pass rush is a continued work in progress for a defense that is getting things done in other ways.

Iowa is allowing just 8.5 points per game, ranking third nationally, and ranks fifth in the country in total defense while allowing opponents to gain on average 251 yards per game.

The Hawkeyes have gotten off the field, ranking eighth nationally in limiting opponents to a 25.5-percent success rate in converting on third down.

4. Be special on special teams

When Iowa has had success in the recent history of the Iowa-Michigan series, special teams have been difference makers.

The Hawkeyes have won only 15 of the 60 games between the teams, but 11 of those wins have come since 1981 and in seven of those victories kickers have either scored the game-winning points or have kicked enough field goals to prevent the Wolverines from winning.

Keith Duncan, who beat Michigan 14-13 with a 33-yard field goal as time expired in 2016, is off to a 10-of-11 start in field goal attempts this season.

Iowa has also altered field position with the 45.5 yards Michael Sleep-Dalton has averaged over 13 punts, helping create a nearly 10-yard improvement in the Hawkeyes' net punting average over a year ago.

Michigan will counter with solid specialists. Jake Moody has hit all four field goals he has attempted for the Wolverines and Will Hart is second in the Big Ten in punting, averaging 47.6 yards.

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