Another Saturday and another trophy up for grabs as the Iowa Hawkeyes return home in search of their 10th consecutive win. They'll host Minnesota for the Floyd of Rosedale, the pig trophy that both sides will be vying for inside Kinnick Stadium under the lights.
The betting line opened up with Iowa the obvious favorite at -12. On the surface, it appears to be a defensive-minded game as opposed to last week's predicted offensive battle. It just shows how balanced and versatile this Hawkeye squad is, being able to win in various ways. Let's dig into this one a bit more.
Here are some numbers related to this week's contest.
- The Golden Gophers enter the game 4-5 but are just 1-4 in league play. Some of their wins were not all that impressive at all; 10-7 over Kent State, 23-20 over Colorado State, 27-24 over Ohio. Some of their losses are not all that impressive; 48-25 to Nebraska and 27-0 to Northwestern. They did compete well with Ohio State, TCU, and Michigan.
- Minnesota is one of the worst scoring offenses in the Big Ten averaging just 20.3 points a game. Iowa is 4th best in the league at scoring at 32.9 points a game. Iowa also has a top four scoring defense in the conference, only surrendering 16.6 points a game.
- The Hawkeyes are third in the league in total defense, giving up just a hair over 300 yards a game. That's it, very impressive. Only Michigan Wisconsin are better.
- Iowa has the second best rushing offense in the Big Ten. Minnesota has the second worst. Iowa averages 205 rushing yards a game, trailing only Ohio State. Minnesota averages just 141.6 yards a game on the ground. The Hawkeyes' rushing defense is pretty nasty. They have given up just three touchdowns on the ground, best in the NCAA. It is also the third stingiest against the run in the Big Ten, allowing only 101.4 yards a game on the ground.
- The Gophers do have a better passing offense than Iowa, statistically. It is also much better than their running game. Through the air is where they have found most of their success on the season as an offense. Iowa will surrender some yardage against the pass. They give up about 200 passing yards a game on average. However, it is a bit of a bend but don't break philosophy, as they become much more dangerous in the red zone, and take advantage of the offense's mistakes as well. Iowa has a lot of interceptions, lead by Desmond King's eight, which leads the NCAA. Iowa also leads the Big Ten in interceptions as a team with 13.
- Not only is Minnesota better as an offense through the air, they defend the pass much better than the run as well. Most of that is in part to their impressive secondary lead by Eric Murray and Jalen Myrick.
- Minnesota's special teams should not be a concern for Iowa. They are second to last in the Big Ten in kick returns, and dead last in punt returns. Both teams possess very good punters and the Gophers' kickoff coverage unit is second best in the league.
- The Golden Gophers aren't a team that has put a lot of pressure on the quarterback despite their very good secondary. They have recorded the fewest number of sacks in the Big Ten. They have only 16 on the year. By comparison, Iowa has 25 and Penn State has 42.
- One of the key components to Iowa's success this year has been their efficiency on third down. They have the second best conversion rate on third down in the Big Ten now. They have converted 57 times now on 129 attempts. That gives them a 44.2 percentage. Michigan State leads the league converting over 50 percent of their third downs on offense.
- Iowa is also tied with the Spartans atop the turnover margin category in the Big Ten at a +11 clip. The Gophers are -2, which is about middle of the road in the league.
- The biggest discrepancy in Iowa's favor that I undercovered was in the red zone. Minnesota is not one of the worst in scoring in the red zone as an offense but they are one of the worst when it comes to scoring touchdowns instead of field goals. In 26 trips on the season, the Gophers have only found the end zone 11 times which is an incredibly low number. Conversely, Iowa has found the end zone 27 times on 40 tries. Iowa has been one of the best at red zone defense, second in the league. They've only allowed 15 scores in just 20 attempts. Only 9 of those 15 scores were touchdowns. The Gophers have given up twice as many touchdowns in just 10 more trips.
Iowa Individual Leaders
- Quarterback C.J. Beathard is seventh in the Big Ten in passing yards a game. He's averaging 203.4 yards a game. He's fourth in pass efficiency.
- Running back Jordan Canzeri is still fifth in the Big Ten in rushing yards a game despite not having played a significantly large portion of four games. He's averaging 99.7 yards a game. He's also second in the Big Ten in scoring per game and second in touchdowns per game. He only trails Ezekiel Elliott in touchdowns. Elliott has 14 while Canzeri has 10. Elliott has played more games, obviously.
- Wideout Matt VandeBerg is fifth in the conference in receptions a game and has 49 total on the year. He also averages 57 yards receiving per game.
- Desmond King ranks fifth in the conference in punt return average at 12.9 yards a pop. His 15 passes defended as a cornerback is second in the Big Ten, trailing only Jourdan Lewis of Michigan. However, King's eight interceptions is four more than anyone else in the league. Anthony Brown of Purdue, Taylor Barton of Illinois, and Tanner McEvoy of Wisconsin have four. King's total also tied the Iowa single-season record held by Nile Kinnick and is tops in the NCAA.
- Dillon Kidd is fourth in the Big Ten in punting average at 43.3 yards a punt.
- Cole Fisher is 11th in the Big Ten in tackles at 8.1 a game. Josey Jewell has moved all the way up to 7th in the league with 8.6 a game.
- Nate Meier is fifth in the Big Ten with seven sacks on the year.