On Saturday, the Iowa Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1) will travel to Minneapolis to play the Minnesota Golden Gophers (1-6, 0-3). Kickoff is at 2:42 p.m. and it will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
In addition to a third consecutive win, Iowa will seek to reclaim the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy. It’s been residing in Minneapolis after Iowa’s embarrassing 27-24 loss last year.
And with one more win, Iowa will be bowl eligible. But for Minnesota, they’ve lost four in a row and with another loss, they will have no chance of seeing a bowl this year.
Let’s take a look at this week’s game.
Iowa will travel to Minnesota with a depleted defense corp. Earlier this week, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said he was optimistic injured players Tom Nardo, Tyler Nielsen and Anthony Hitchens could return to action this week.
Many of Iowa’s games have come down to its Achilles heel: third down conversions. Iowa stands at the bottom of the conference by allowing opponents a 51 percent conversation rate. This also contributes to Iowa’s time of possession, which is lacking.
Gopher defense is last in the Big Ten with points allowed at 35.9, No. 11 in yards allowed per game at 428.6 and No. 11 in rushing yards allowed at 1,345. In last week’s Nebraska game, the Gophers gave up a total of 515 total yards (346 ground yards).
It’s been a good transition to James Vandenberg as quarterback and to-date he’s thrown 16 touchdown passes with 1,741 total yards.
Marcus Coker continues to be a one-man running back corp. and he has already rushed for more than 700 yards and eight touchdowns this season. True freshman running back Mika’il McCall, who broke his ankle in the first game after impressive play, has received medical clearance to return.
Wide receiver Marvin McNutt is having his best season ever and sits on top of the conference with his 757 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. After last week’s game, McNutt is now Iowa’s all-time leader in touchdown receptions.
Fellow wide receiver Keenan Davis has a sprained ankle and may not play on Saturday.
Minnesota has the conference’s lowest scoring offense with 17.4 points and 293.7 yards per game.
The Gopher’s quarterback is MarQueis Gray, who’s not bad as he can both run and throw the ball. To-date, he has thrown for 747 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions; he’s rushed on 94 carries for 356 yards and two touchdowns.
Minnesota will use the en vogue two-quarterback system and Max Shortell may also see playing time on Saturday. He has 309 passing yards and two touchdowns for the season.
Da’Jon McKnight is the team’s wide receiver with 27 catches for 393 yards and one touchdown.
Iowa’s duo of Eric Guthrie and Mike Meyer has been productive. Meyer is second in the conference for field goals. Minnesota has kicker Chris Hawthorne (6 of 9 for field goals) and punter Dan Orseke, with a long of 64 yards.
Not much to say here.
Winner: Hopefully Iowa’s defense will step up and not give away too many yards. Iowa wins 35-17.
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Written by Debbie Baratz