Iowa CITY, Iowa - Iowa's rivalry trophy case is empty. Two more chances remain this season for the Hawkeyes to put something in there. The first one comes this week at Minnesota, who currently holds Floyd of Rosedale.
"No loss is fun," Iowa Guard Adam Gettis said. "But when they come get the trophy, that's really no fun. It's nice to walk past the case and look at them every once in a while. We're missing the trophies and we'd like to have them back."
One-win Minnesota knocked off bowl-bound Iowa, 27-24, last year in Minneapolis. The Hawkeyes looked flat from the opening kickoff.
"We didn't play well and they did," Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said this week. "It's about as simple as that. They came ready to play; we did not. They outplayed us all three areas."
Last year, Iowa was out of the Big Ten title race by the Gopher game. At 2-1, the Hawkeyes have positioned themselves to make a run at the Legends Division crown in '11.
A loss at lowly Minnesota would pretty much derail Iowa's chances of taking home the hardware this year. Will the Hawkeyes show up to continue the march?
"I think anytime you lose a trophy, if it doesn't impact you, you're probably not paying attention," Ferentz said. "Last November, the way we played that day, looked like none of us were paying attention quite frankly. That wasn't much fun."
TELEVISION: The game will be televised to a national audience by the BTN. The announcers are Eric Collins, Chris Martin and sideline reporter Dionne Miller.
RECORDS, RANKINGS: Iowa is 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the Big Ten. Minnesota is 1-6 and 0-3.
HISTORY: This is the 105th meeting between the schools. Minnesota leads the all-time series by a 60-42-2 margin. Minnesota won last year's game in Minneapolis (27-24). Iowa has won eight of the last 10 in the series. Minnesota leads the series (37-15-1) in games played at Minneapolis.
HAWKEYE HUDDLE: Hawkeye fans traveling to Minneapolis for the Iowa-Minnesota football game on Saturday can make plans to attend the Hawkeye Huddle prior to kickoff.
The Huddle will be held from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. at the University Hotel, 615 Washington Ave SE in Minneapolis. The University Hotel is located within walking distance of TCF Bank Stadium, where kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Admission to the Hawkeye Huddle is free and includes cash refreshments, snacks, door prizes, cheerleaders and Herky. Visit www.jointheiclub.com for additional information.
THE LINE: Caesar's in Vegas installed Iowa has a16-point favorite to open on Monday. It held there through Wednesday.
Iowa was favored by 23.5 points at home last week. I felt that number was a tad high. Indiana scored a meaningless touchdown late to keep the Hawkeyes from the cover.
I'm not safe laying big numbers with an Iowa defense that is terribly inconsistent. That's why I'm hesitant to recommend a cover on the road in a rivalry game this week.
Yes, Minnesota is not a good team and it's a revenge game for the Hawkeyes. Maybe that's enough for you to believe in Iowa covering the 16.
I'll say what I've been saying for the last few weeks - take the over. I think this game goes past the 54 posted at Caesars.
Here are a some interesting trends:
-Hawkeyes are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games in October.
-Hawkeyes are 7-19 ATS in their last 26 games as a favorite of 10.5 or greater.
-Hawkeyes are 1-5-1 ATS in their last 7 conference games.
-Hawkeyes are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 games as a road favorite of 10.5 or greater.
-Hawkeyes are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games as a road favorite.
-Golden Gophers are 5-11-3 ATS in their last 19 games as a home underdog.
-Golden Gophers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games as a home underdog of 10.5 or greater.
-Golden Gophers are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 games in October.
-Golden Gophers are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games overall.
Iowa LT Riley Reiff vs. Minnesota DE Ben Perry - The offensive line has performed much better the last few weeks. Yes, that has had to do with the competition, but that's not going to be ratcheted up this week with the Golden Gophers so continued success is likely.
Reiff (6-6, 300) gets to feast on a redshirt freshman in Minnesota defensive end Ben Perry (6-5, 241). That's not good news for the Gophers, who need to get pressure on Hawkeye quarterback James Vandenberg.
Reiff, a junior, sits high on many early NFL draft prediction boards. You might see some highlights from this game when they announce his name in New York at April's Draft.
Minnesota WR Da'Jon McKnight vs. Iowa CB Shaun Prater - The Gopher senior likely is going to finish in the school's Top 10 for all-time receiving yards. At 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, he's a handful and the type of wideout that gives the Hawkeyes trouble.
Minnesota QB MarQueis Gray vs. Iowa Defense - Don't look now, here comes another signal caller that can move around. And, he's a big one at 6-4, 240.
The Hawkeyes have improved their containment since Steele Jantz wore them out in Week 2. But Indiana's Tre Roberson reminded people that Iowa is still susceptible to mobile quarterbacks with a strong performance last week.
Iowa also has struggled against the run and in tacking in space in '11, which makes the match-up with Gray a concern.
Minnesota David Cobb (probable, hamstring), Chris Hawthorne (questionable, hamstring), Troy Stoudemire (questionable, wrist), Jimmy Gjere (questionable, concussion ), Harold Legania (questionable, foot), Leston Simpson (Questionable, head), Ryan Orton (doubtful, back), Devon Wright (doubtful, hamstring).
Iowa - James Morris (questionable, ankle), Tom Nardo (questionable, ankle), Anthony Hitchens (questionable, leg), Mika'il McCall (questionable, leg), Keenan Davis (questionable, ankle), Tyler Nielsen (questionable, hand), Nolan MacMillan (out, hernia), Shane Dibona (out for season, achilles), Dakota Getz (out for season, knee).
- Minnesota ranks No. 34 in the nation in punt returns, averaging 10.7 yards per return.
-Minnesota has come from behind in each of its last 10 victories, dating back to the 2009 season.
-In beating Iowa a year ago, the Gophers were able to rush for a total of 216 yards, the most the Hawkeyes gave up all season.
-Minnesota has a combined 82 starts among all its offensive linemen returning from the 2010 season.
-MarQueis Gray has now cracked the single-season top five chart for quarterback rushing yards. His 438 yards this season has surpassed Tony Dungy's mark of 417 in 1974.
-Five Gopher tailbacks have carried the ball so far this season. However, freshman Lamonte Edwards has 8 carries for 11 yards and 1 score. But he has since moved to linebacker.
-Minnesota's 2011 schedule was ranked by numerous experts as one of the tougher schedules in the nation. According to Phil Steele, Minnesota has the No. 21 toughest schedule among all 120 FBS teams.
-The Minnesota roster includes just one player from Iowa. TE John Rabe is a native of Iowa Falls and attended Ellsworth Community College before joining the Minnesota program.
-Iowa is listed among teams receiving votes in the USA Today coaches' poll and the Harris Poll.
-As a team, Iowa is tied for third nationally in red zone offense (96%), seventh in net punting (43.0), eighth in fewest penalty yards per game (36.7), tied for ninth in red zone defense (71%), tied for 12th in fewest turnovers (eight), tied for 14th in fewest penalties per game (4.2) and 18th in punt return defense (4.2).
-Iowa has scored 31 points or more in six of its first seven games. The last time the Hawkeyes accomplished this was 2002.
-Iowa outscored Indiana 21-7 in the second quarter last week. Iowa has outscored its opponents 75-27 in the second period this season.
- Marvin McNutt needs 313 receiving yards to tie Derrell Johnson-Koulianos' school record for a career.
THE PREDICTION: In case you forgot, I had Iowa winning 45-20 last week. The Hawkeyes topped Indiana, 45-24.
Yeah, I had them covering the 23.5-point spread. But I liked the over better, which came home. Had you teased the points and the over, you'd have been saluting Uncle Rob.
So, we move on to the Gophers, who may or may not be worse than Indiana. Either way, they stink.
Iowa will not lose this football game. The Hawkeyes will give up some points, but Minnesota still will be waiting for its first Big Ten victory of the season after Saturday. Thanks to this new fangled divisional setup in the league, we will not get to see the Gophers play Indiana this fall.
Minnesota ranks 96th nationally against the rush (192.4 yards per game), allowing over 5 yards per carry. That's not a good thing against an improving Hawkeye offensive line and a more confident Marcus Coker.
Iowa either will loosen up a stacked box with the pass and then pound Coker or pound Coker to set up play action. Regardless, the Gophers aren't going to stop the Hawkeyes if they stay aggressive on offense.
IOWA 38, Minnesota 23