THE BREAKDOWN: Minnesota

HI Publisher Rob Howe breaks down Iowa's contest with Minnesota to be played this weekend in Minneapolis.

IOWA CITY, Ia. - Interim Minnesota Coach Jeff Horton might not hang onto the position after the season. He could possibly land some stand-up comedy gigs if the football job falls through.

"One thing I've learned in eight months, it's a tough town to be head coach in, huh?," Horton said on Tuesday. "Good thing (Twins Manager Ron) Gardenhire got in here and got out of town before they got after him."

Horton, in his first season as offensive coordinator, stepped in for Tim Brewster, who Minnesota fired earlier this month. The Vikings let go of head coach Brad Childress on Monday.

The Golden Gophers will play host to No. 24 Iowa on Saturday in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale. They're coming off a bye week that followed an impressive win at bowl-bound Illinois.

"I remember when I was here as a grad assistant in 1984 with Lou Holtz," Horton said. "(Iowa) was the last game of the year; I think we were 3-7 and they were probably 7-3.  And they had Chuck Long, Ronny Harmon, Larry Station.  Some of you aren't old enough to remember the names; some of you are.

"We had a great team, and nobody gave us a chance.  I remember we won that game then, and I know nobody's probably given us chances this year because of the records, but we're certainly going to have a great week of preparation."

Horton thinks the Iowa-Minnesota rivalry has taken a hit.

"We need to go out there and win the Floyd of Rosedale," he said. "To make it rivalry, we need to win more.  I think we're 2-8 over the last 10 games.  Both wins have come in Minneapolis, so that's a positive.  But we need to uphold our part and get after Iowa."

Horton said you know what to expect when you face the Hawkeyes.

"They're not going to try to fool you on offense; they're not going to try to fool you on defense," he said. "I think they play the best fundamentals of anybody in the Big 10; believe in what they do.  They're not going to try to change what they do.  They're just going to line up and be exactly where they're supposed to be or block a play exactly how they're supposed to.  That's why they've been so successful."

TELEVISION: The Big Ten Network (HD) will televise the contest. Eric Collins, Chris Martin and Charissa Thompson will call the action.

RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa (7-4 overall, 4-3 Big Ten) is 24th in the Associated Press rankings and the USA Today coaches poll. The Hawkeyes are also 24th in the BCS standings. Minnesota (2-9, 1-6) is not ranked.

HAWKEYE HUDDLE: The National I-Club and the UI Alumni Association are sponsoring a "Hawkeye Huddle" Friday, Nov. 26 prior to the Iowa at Minnesota game the following day. The Huddle will be held from 7-9 p.m. at the Minneapolis Marriott City Center, 30 South Seventh St., Minneapolis.

Admission to the Hawkeye Huddle is free and includes cash refreshments, snacks, Hawk Shop door prizes, Hawkeye D.J., cheerleaders and Herky. Fans can visit www.hawkeyesports.com/iclub for additional information.

HISTORY: Saturday will be the 104th meeting between Iowa and Minnesota. Minnesota holds a 59-42-2 advantage in the series that began with a 42-4 Gopher victory in 1891. The Gophers won the first 12 games in the series before Iowa earned a 6-0 win in 1918. Iowa has won the last three meetings and eight of the last nine. The Hawkeyes defeated Minnesota 55-0 in 2008 at Minneapolis in the last Minnesota game played in the HHH Metrodome.

THE LINE: As of Tuesday morning, the Las Vegas Hilton showed Iowa as a 15.5 point favorite. The Mirage, Caesars Palace and the Orleans listed the Hawkeyes minus 16.

There's no doubt Iowa is the superior football team here. However, the Hawkeyes come into the game having scored 18, 17 and 17 in their last three games.

It could have been expected last week against Ohio State, which boasts one of the top defenses in the country. The previous two weeks against Indiana and Northwestern, however, were puzzling.

The week after Iowa played Indiana, Wisconsin put up 83 points on the Hoosiers. A week after limiting the Hawkeyes to 17, Northwestern allowed 48 to Illinois. Illini RB Mike Leshoure ran for 330 yards and was named national player of the week by the Walter Camp foundation.

The line makers obviously feel like Iowa's offense will rebound against Minnesota. Makes sense. The Golden Gophers rank 101 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 33.82 a game. On a side note, Indiana is 102 at 34.27.

You also have to factor in weather now that Minnesota is playing in an open-air stadium. The Twin Cities are forecasted to get nailed with ice pellets on Wednesday and some snow on Thursday. No worries, though, as it's supposed to be a balmy 31 degrees at game time on Saturday.

Iowa played very conservatively against the Gophers a year ago. The Hawkeyes did enough to win, 12-0, at Kinnick.

I have a feeling that's going to be the plan against this year. They could get that to that number, but I can't recommend the Hawkeyes against the spread (ATS) this week. I'd go the other way.

Some trends:

-Hawkeyes are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games as a road favorite of 10.5 or greater.

-Hawkeyes are 0-3-1 ATS in their last 4 games in November.

-Hawkeyes are 13-4 ATS in their last 17 road games.

-Hawkeyes are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games as a road favorite.

-Hawkeyes are 4-10 ATS vs. a team with a losing record.

-Golden Gophers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a home underdog of 10.5 or greater.

-Golden Gophers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games following a bye week.

-Golden Gophers are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games in November.

-Golden Gophers are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 home games.

-Golden Gophers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a S.U. win.

KEY MATCH-UPS:

Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight vs. Iowa CB Shaun Prater - McKnight has stepped in for the departed Eric Decker and excelled. His 10 touchdown receptions this season have placed him one away from the school record.

McKnight leads the Gophers with 46 catches and 705 yards receiving.

Prater seems to be getting better each week and shares the team lead with three picks. His interception against Ohio State last week set up the go-ahead touchdown for Iowa.

Minnesota QB Adam Weber looks for McKnight early and often, so Prater needs to be on his toes.

Minnesota C D.J. Burris vs. Iowa DT Mike Daniels - Burris is the most experienced player on a pretty veteran Gopher front. The senior has started 39 games.

Daniels has broken into the starting lineup and had a breakout year. As a result, teams have done a better job recently of finding ways to block him.

Weber is a dangerous signal caller when given time. Teams are doing a good job of keeping Iowa's ends from getting to the QB. Some disruption up the middle from Daniels and Karl Klug could go a long way this weekend.

Iowa RT Markus Zusevics vs. Minnesota DE Anthony Jacobs - Jacobs really has come on for the Gophers as the season has advanced. He's led the Gopher D-Line in tackles in for four of the last five games.

One thing on which to keep an eye with Jacobs is his versatility. The junior has switched from end to tackle and back within in games, something he's done in each of Minnesota's last two games.

Zusevics is enjoying a quiet season. That's a compliment. It means he's doing his job and not getting beat very often in his first year as a starter. He could play a big role in allowing QB Ricky Stanzi time to find receivers this week.

Iowa Running Back Marcus Coker vs. Minnesota Middle Linebacker Gary Tinsley - Coker returns to the feature back role with starter Adam Robinson sidelined with his second concussion in four weeks. The true freshman has run well in support and in place of A-Rob and he'll likely be the apple of Tinsley's eye.

Tinsley leads the Gophers with 86 tackles and has recorded double digits in stops on five occasions this season. He paces the team with 9.5 tackles for loss in 2010.

Coker has done a real good job of breaking tackles when he reaches the second level. Tinsley must make sure they limit the freshman's yards after contact or it could be a long day for the Gopher D.

INJURIES:

Minnesota - Ed Olson (undisclosed, probable), Dom Alford (knee, probable), Matt Carufel (knee, probable), Bryant Allen (ankle, questionable), Ryan Orton (undisclosed, questionable), Kim Royston (leg, out).

Iowa - William Lowe (ankle, questionable), Adam Gettis (ankle, questionable), Nolan MacMillan (neck, questionable) Colin Sandeman (foot, probable), Jeff Tarpinian (neck, out), Adam Robinson (concussion, out), Colin Sandeman (foot, probable).

THE SKINNY:

Minnesota

-Wide receiver Da'Jon McKnight has hauled in 10 touchdown passes in 11 games this season. He is just one score away from tying the Gophers' single-season record.

-Quarterback Adam Weber became just the fifth Big Ten signal-caller to pass for 10,000 career yards earlier this season.

-The Golden Gophers' 38-34 victory at Illinois in their last outing marked the program's first victory over a Big Ten or FBS opponent in the month of November or later in nearly four years. The last time Minnesota defeated an FBS or Big Ten foe in November was in Glen Mason's last season (34-24 vs. Iowa, 11/18/06).

-Minnesota's victory over Illinois on Nov. 13 snapped a nine-game losing streak for the Golden Gophers. With the win, Minnesota avoided tying a school record for consecutive losses in a season. The previous record of 10 was set in 2007 -- the first season under former head coach Tim Brewster.

-Adam Weber now holds the Big Ten record for consecutive starts by a quarterback. With one more start, he could tie the all-time record for consecutive starts (50) in the Big Ten.

-Junior cornerback/kick returner Troy Stoudermire is now the Big Ten career kickoff return-yardage leader. A 90-yard return vs. Illinois last time out helped push him in front of Wisconsin senior David Gilreath. Stoudermire has 2,920 yards on 114 returns, while Gilreath has 2,866 on 127 returns.

-Co-offensive coordinator Jeff Horton was named interim head coach for the remainder of the 2010 season, effective Oct. 17. Tim Brewster was fired. Horton is in his first season with the Gophers and is the only member of the Gopher coaching staff with head coaching experience.

-The Gopher offensive line has only allowed 1.5 sacks per game to rank No. 35 in the nation. Of the nine offensive linemen listed on the Gophers' original two-deep this season, eight are 6-foot 3-inches or taller and eight top the 300-pound mark.

-Junior linebacker Gary Tinsley holds the team lead in tackles with 86. He has been in double digits five times in 11 games this season. He tallied 12 stops and a pair of tackles-for-loss in his latest outing vs. Illinois.

Iowa

-Iowa, in 2010, has four losses by a combined total of 15 points, including three losses in Big Ten play by a combined eight points. Iowa was tied in the fourth quarter at Arizona before a 34-27 loss and led in the fourth quarter of losses to Wisconsin (30-31), Northwestern (17-21) and Ohio State (17-20).

-Dating back to 2008, Iowa has won nine of its last 12 games away from Iowa City, with two of the three losses to ranked teams. A six-game win streak was snapped in the overtime loss at eighth-ranked Ohio State last November and Iowa lost at 18th-ranked Arizona and at Northwestern this season.

-Senior WR Derrell Johnson-Koulianos and junior WR Marvin McNutt, Jr., combine to give Iowa one of its top receiving duo's in school history. McNutt, Jr., has 48 catches for 752 yards and seven touchdowns, while Johnson-Koulianos has 43 receptions for 711 yards and nine scores. No two players have combined for more touchdown receptions in a single season. In Johnson-Koulianos and McNutt, Jr., Iowa has two players with over 700 receiving yards in the same season for just the seventh time.

-Iowa has 77 wins since the start of the 2002 season, which ties as the 17th highest total in Division I football.

-For the season, Iowa has scored 95 points following 23 opponent turnovers, which includes 14 points following two blocked kicks. Iowa has seven turnovers (three fumbles, four interceptions) in 11 games, allowing 14 points following those turnovers.

-Iowa's 49 scoring drives in 11 games have averaged 7.3 plays, 63.1 yards and 3:32 in elapsed time. Iowa's opponents have 27 scoring drives, averaging 9.7 plays, 67.6 yards and 3:57 in elapsed time.

-In 11 games, Iowa is averaging 6.7 yards on 324 first down plays, 5.4 yards on 227 second down plays, 6.1 yards on 139 third down plays and six yards on 10 fourth down plays, converting 5-10 fourth down attempts.

-Iowa holds scoring advantages in the first (85-34), second (96-36), third (71-28) and fourth (73-72) quarters.

-Iowa's opponents have had 23 passing plays, only four rushing plays and 23 KO returns of 20 yards or more.

THE PREDICTION: If you look at the statistics from top to bottom right down to the records, it shouldn't be much of a game. Minnesota is experiencing a dreadful season…again.

However, the Gophers are the ones in this match-up coming off a win. Iowa limps into the contest on a two-game skid.

Minnesota also benefits from it being Senior Day and playing at home. It will be interesting to see how many Iowa fans travel north to watch in 30-degree temperatures with a segment of them disappointed in the team's 7-4 record. I have a feeling it will be a good turnout for the Hawkeyes but not great.

Iowa needs to get on Gopher QB Adam Weber early and make him uncomfortable. Too many signal callers have diced up the Hawkeyes in key situations this season.

Offensively, Iowa needs to take advantage of its opportunities, and there should be plenty of them. The Gophers rank among the worst teams nationally in points allowed.

The Iowa coaches really played conservatively last season in a 12-0 win to keep Floyd in Iowa City. I could see a similar approach coming back to bite them in the butt this season with the Hawkeyes inconsistent finishes.

I think this one will be closer than a lot of people expect it to be.

IOWA 20, Minnesota 10

STATISTICAL LOOK:

Minnesota

Iowa


Hawkeye Insider Top Stories