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Register sports reporters Chad Leistikow and Chris Cuellar talk about Iowa football, basketball and wrestling.

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IOWA CITY, Ia. – Iowa’s football team will be without three fifth-year senior starters against third-ranked Michigan, Hawkeye radio announcer Gary Dolphin reported.

Tight end and George Kittle and cornerback Greg Mabin will each miss their first games of the season due to injuries, and offensive lineman Cole Croston will sit out for the third time in Iowa’s last four games.

For the last two games, Kittle had been powering through a lower-leg injury he suffered Oct. 15 at Purdue. He was ineffective in a 17-9 loss to Wisconsin (and sat out the second half) and then again in a 41-14 loss at Penn State with two catches for nine yards.

Kittle appeared to re-aggravate his injury in the second half in Happy Valley, but after the game in interviews claimed, “I’m good.” Instead, he’ll miss a game for only the third time in his career. Look for a collective effort Saturday at tight end from backups Peter Pekar, Noah Fant, Nate Wieting and Nate Vejvoda.

Mabin’s absence comes as more of a surprise. He had started 31 consecutive games at cornerback and has been one of Iowa’s most consistent players. True freshman Manny Rugamba, head coach Kirk Ferentz said a while back, would be next man in. Sophomore Joshua Jackson also could be deployed.

Croston’s absence means Iowa is likely to give Keegan Render his fourth consecutive start at left guard. Ike Boettger will start at right tackle.

The Hawkeyes (5-4, 3-3 Big Ten Conference) are a 21½-point underdog for the 7 p.m., ABC-televised game.

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