Iowa's Schedule, Worst to Best: No. 1 Michigan

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March 28, 2014 | 7:14 pm

I'm back to work today unless I decided to spend a second week vacationing in Moscow with my old friend Eddie Snowden. What a zany character, that guy. But before I return to doing my usual thing, here is the last in my 12-part series ranking Iowa's 12 football games in 2013 in terms of being interesting.

To see the teams that have already been ranked, click here and scroll. To see next year's rankings and the rankings for the 50 seasons that follow, click here.

No. 1. Michigan. Nov. 23, Game #11.

If you hadn't gathered by now, these rankings aren't as scientific as the work of, say, a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology.

I thought about calling Northwestern-Iowa, Iowa-Minnesota, Northern Illinois-Iowa, Iowa-Iowa State and Wisconsin-Iowa the most interesting game on the Hawkeyes' 2013 football schedule. Finally, I chose Michigan.

First off, you can seldom go wrong anticipating a Michigan visit to Iowa City. Secondly, it's Iowa's home-finale and next-to-last game of the year, so for all we know, it might be significant.

But most importantly in my mind, the game should be an illustration of where the Iowa program stands. If the Hawkeyes can win or at least play head's up with the Wolverines in Week 11, the future should have optimism attached to it no matter what happens the following Friday at Nebraska. If you're in a good-enough place to compete with Michigan in late November, no bottom has fallen out, and the level of toughness Iowa always needs to compete in the Big Ten will probably be in place.

If, however, it's playing out the string on another disappointing season, then this obviously won't be a game that will have held up as No. 1 on any list of interesting things. Since we don't know one way or another, I again refer you this site.

Michigan swatted down Iowa in Ann Arbor last year, and quarterback Devin Gardner was a menace. But this won't be Ann Arbor. And this game will be sandwiched between a visit to Northwestern and the season-finale at home against Ohio State for the Wolverines, so they won't likely be at their emotional peak in Iowa City. Which may mean something, or it may mean nothing. The homefield advantage in college football is nothing compared to that in basketball. Kinnick Stadium is much more of a fortress when the Hawkeyes are good than when they are like they were in 2012. Funny how that works.

Iowa has won three of its last four games against Michigan, the best four-game stretch for Iowa in the 58-game series. The last two meetings in Kinnick went the Hawkeyes' way.

But last year was Michigan 42, Iowa 17. The game wasn't as close as the score indicates. Michigan gained 513 yards, 314 of it on Gardner's passing.

So this year's confrontation has a marquee opponent and a first-rate visiting quarterback, it's the home-finale, and it will tell a lot about where the Hawkeyes are in 2013. Here in August, it's the most-interesting game I see on Iowa's schedule. If I still stand by that in November, that means it's been a good season for Iowa.

Now, let's focus on Week 1. Holy cats, it's next week!

 

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