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Nov. 4, 2011

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 — Points have come in bunches for the University of Iowa football team inside Kinnick Stadium.

Iowa has scored at least 30 points every home game this season, eclipsing the 40 point mark in three games. The squad is averaging 39.2 points per game at Kinnick Stadium.

Saturday’s opponent — 13th-ranked Michigan — enters the game with one of the nation’s best defenses. Michigan is allowing 14.6 points per game through eight games, ranking second in the Big Ten and sixth in the nation in scoring defense, while forcing 20 turnovers.

Something’s got to give.

“They’re a really good defense,” said junior quarterback James Vandenberg. “They have great players, are very well coached and have a very good scheme. They don’t give up the big plays, so it’s very important to execute every play against them because they’re not going to give up the home run.”

The Hawkeyes have the word “execution” on the tip of their tongues following last Saturday’s 22-21 road loss at Minnesota. Iowa entered the game executing 26-of-27 times in the red zone, but finished the game 3-of-6 against the Golden Gophers.

“We didn’t execute,” said Vandenberg. “There were plenty of plays to be made out there to win the game, and we weren’t able to do it. We have to move forward because we have four tough games left.”

Vandenberg said it will take a team effort to clean up the mistakes that plagued them in Minneapolis.

“All 11 guys doing their job on every play,” said Vandenberg. “When it comes down to the third down and red zone situations that even becomes more important. We didn’t do a good enough job of that last Saturday.”

On defense, Iowa knows it has a tall task at hand in dealing with a Michigan offense averaging nearly 35 points per game and its multi-talented quarterback Denard Robinson. Robinson leads the Wolverines with 908 yards and eight touchdowns on the ground, and he is 85-of-155 for 1,423 yards and 11 scores through the air.

“He’s most definitely going to be a problem, like he is for any other defense” said senior safety Jordan Bernstine. “We have to contain him, stop him and play well as a defense.”

“Robinson is playing with more confidence,” said UI head coach Kirk Ferentz. “He’s a year further in his development. He has a good supporting cast, a good offensive line — as good as we’ve seen this year. They’re well pieced together.”

Saturday’s game is the first of a grueling month of November for the Hawkeyes. Iowa hosts 17th-ranked Michigan State on Nov. 12, plays at Purdue on Nov. 19 and at No. 9/10 Nebraska on Nov. 25.

“November is when the teams step up, that’s when you make your run,” said Vandenberg. “We put ourselves in this situation, not quite as good as we could have been, but we have four good teams on our schedule left, and we’re going to do our best in those four games.”

“We have to win, we have to rebound,” said junior defensive lineman Steve Bigach. “Any time you get hit in the chin, you’re looking to go and fight back. That’s what we’re looking to do this week. It’s a good opportunity for us because we have a heck of an opponent coming into our house.”

Saturday’s game will be televised to a national audience on ESPN beginning at 11:01 a.m. (CT). Dave Pasch, Chris Spielman and Quint Kessenich will call the action.