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Game Preview: No. 24 Iowa Hawkeyes vs. Minnesota Golden Gophers

Posted By Debbie Baratz On Nov 24 2010 @ 10:39 am In Iowa | No Comments

On Saturday, the Iowa Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-3) will wrap up its season with a visit to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers (2-9, 1-6). The game is at 2:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

The two teams will be battling for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. Floyd is currently residing in Iowa City after the Hawkeyes beat Minnesota 12-0 last season. Minnesota holds the advantage in this trophy series, 39-34-2; however, the team hasn’t touched the trophy since 2006. 

The biggest news for the Hawkeyes this week may be the absence of sophomore running back Adam Robinson. On Saturday against Ohio State, Robinson went down late in the fourth quarter;  by late Saturday evening, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz had already said the running back would probably be out for this week’s game.

Robinson had suffered a concussion in the Michigan State game but returned two weeks later for the Northwestern game.

Fortunately for Iowa, a backup running back has emerged: true freshman Marcus Coker. Coker entered the scene midseason and has proven to be a legitimate second running back. Last week against OSU, Coker carried nine times for 70 yards with one touchdown.

Freshman Brad Rogers gets the nod as Coker’s backup and BJ Lowery will backup cornerback Micah Hyde.

For Minnesota, it’s been a tough season as the team has played under two coaches. After falling to 1-6 on Oct. 17, Minnesota coach Tim Brewer got the pink slip and Jeff Horton took over the reins as interim head coach. His biggest win to-date came against Illinois, 38-34.

Looking at this week, Iowa’s defense should continue to pose some challenges for Minnesota. Iowa ranks sixth nationally in rushing defense (93.3) and scoring defense (15.5), 14th in total defense (311.2) and 20th in pass efficiency defense (113.06). They are second in the nation in turnover margin (+1.27) and tied for seventh with 17 pass interceptions.

Minnesota’s defense has come up short this season and the Gophers have allowed over 400 yards and 33 points per game.

The Gophers will bring some talented offensive players to the field on Saturday. Junior wide receiver Troy Stoudermire (27.9)  ranks first in the Big Ten for kick-off return averages but right behind him is Iowa’s Derrell Johnson-Koulianos (27.1). 

In the team’s 38-34 win against Illinois, Stoudermire earned conference special teams player of the week with his two kickoff returns for 112 yards, including a 90-yard return in the fourth quarter to help the Gophers rally from a 10-point deficit.

Stoudermire holds the Big Ten record with 2,920 career kickoff return yards and ranks second with 114 returns. Iowa is No. 86 in the nation in kick coverage, allowing 22.47 yards per return. Against Ohio State last week, Iowa allowed 23.1 yards a return.

On the quarterback front, Minnesota’s senior quarterback Adam Weber is No. 5 in Big Ten history for passing more than 10,000 career yards. After the Michigan State game, Weber surpassed former Hawkeye quarterback Chuck Long (10,461 yards).

Iowa’s senior quarterback Ricky Stanzi is ranked sixth nationally and first in the Big Ten in pass efficiency (163.17). To-date, he has completed 200-302 attempts for 2,677 yards, 23 touchdowns, and four interceptions. His 23 touchdowns are the third best for a single season at Iowa. 

This week Stanzi was named as one of five finalists for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award. This award goes to the top senior quarterback in the nation and fellow Big Ten quarterback Scott Tolzien of Wisconsin is also a finalist.

Iowa is favored to win this game and should end their season 8-4. Minnesota could pose some challenges with its offense but barring another fourth quarter implosion, the Hawkeyes will keep the Floyd of Rosedale trophy in Iowa.

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