A new twist in the battle for “Floyd of Rosedale” this season…Minnesota comes into the game with a surprising 4-0 record and Iowa is limping in at 2-2, fresh off a home loss to Central Michigan. The Gophers have looked surprisingly decent for a team widely picked to resume its spot at the bottom of the Big Ten’s Legends division. Minnesota posted an impressive win (by Minnesota standards) against Syracuse this past Saturday, behind a fantastic defensive effort forcing four turnovers and holding the Orange to 3 points through the first 59 minutes of the game.
Meanwhile, the folks in Iowa City are gathering their pitchforks and are ready to run Kirk Ferentz out of town. Losses to in-state rival Iowa State are one thing, but home losses to bottom tier MAC teams are a sign of a program with serious issues. The Hawkeyes gave up nine points in the final 50 seconds to Central Michigan, concluding with a 47-yard game winning field goal for the Chippewas.
The Iowa offense this year has, for the most part, been without a pulse. Iowa’s lone bright spot so far this year has been the emergence of running back Mark Weisman. The Iowa sophomore has stepped in due to injuries and performed brilliantly, racking up 330 yards rushing and scoring six TDs in the last two games. Unfortunately for the Hawkeyes, there hasn’t been much else as they rank dead last in the Big Ten in scoring offense. Don’t expect this to change against an improved and confident Gopher defense.
The Gophers aren’t spectacular in any area but have been good enough across the board to win their first four games. Minnesota will try to keep the pressure off backup QB Max Shortell (replacing the injured MarQueis Gray) by running the ball with Donnell Kirkwood (90.3 ypg average) early and mixing short passes to keep the Hawkeye defense off balance.
What will happen: This is a huge game for both programs. For Minnesota, it’s a chance to make a statement and prove that its undefeated record isn’t a fluke. For Iowa, it’s a chance to save the season – and perhaps Kirk Ferentz’ job. Iowa has lost to the Gophers the last two seasons so revenge is a factor in this border rivalry game, but given the brutally tough loss last week, will they be up for it? Minnesota has played only one road game, if you count playing in front of several dozen fans at UNLV a road game. Going to Kinnick Stadium will be a bit different; however Minnesota has the horses to beat a bad Iowa team.
Prediction: Minnesota 23 Iowa 20
Play: Minnesota +7
Written by: Ben Zimmer
Ben Zimmer is 1-0 betting against the spread for the College Football season.
You should also check out our other College Football picks for this upcoming week.