Hawkeye Insider Preview: Minnesota

Hawkeye Insider takes a look at this weekend's Iowa-Minnesota football game.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz wanted no part of the topic. He wasn't about to talk up last season's 55-0 win at Minnesota no matter how much folks wanted to compliment him on that destruction.

"Yeah, it just happened," Ferentz said. "It was one of those games, totally an aberration. I'm still not sure how it happened. I wasn't sure how it happened that night.

"We were playing well and things just started rolling. We haven't had too many of those games, so it was just one of those things that happens. But they don't happen often, that's for sure, especially in conference play. I don't think it's reflective of probably either team quite frankly."

Nice try, coach. It's a fair point, but I don't think Minnesota is looking for excuses or pity. The Golden Gophers are looking for revenge after being embarrassed last season.

"You know what, I think those that refuse to study history are doomed to repeat it," Minnesota Coach Tim Brewster said. "It's something that I live by. So we certainly understand last year's football game.

"We're not - we can't dwell on it obviously, because that's last year. This is a totally new and different team. But we certainly understand that that is the fact. That is a fact that happened last year."

That's what Brewster says publicly. Privately, it's got to be a main focus of motivation.

"Last year we were so high being 7-1 and then slowly falling apart at the end and we were hurt with injuries," Gopher Quarterback Adam Weber said. "We gave it our all (against Wisconsin the week before the Iowa game last season). We tried to come out in the Iowa game with a lot of juice, but there just wasn't much left. We just made too many mistakes.

"I watched the ('08 Iowa) game (Monday night). We were playing all right at the beginning but we just mistake after mistake kind of caught up with us. This year we're coming off a win (16-13 against South Dakota State). We're experienced. A lot of guys played in that game last year. We understand how important this game is."

Minnesota (6-5 overall, 3-4 Big Ten) is looking to improve its bowl resume. The Hawkeyes (9-2, 5-2) hope to keep themselves in the hunt for a BCS bowl and the Big Ten title should they get some help.

The two teams meet for the 103rd time on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium in a trophy game. Floyd of Rosedale (a bronze pig) is on the line.

The Hawkeyes have won seven of the last eight in this series, including the last two. Many of the Gophers have never possessed Floyd.

"It's the chance for us to get a trophy. We haven't won one for a while," Minnesota Linebacker Nate Triplett said. "That's something I'm looking forward to, going down there and fighting for the pig and to improve our bowl status, too. We have a lot on our minds and a lot to play for this week."

Despite the contrast in records and rankings this season, Minnesota can take comfort in knowing that Iowa and its opponents usually take it to the wire. And the Hawkeyes have struggled against some teams they were heavily favored to beat this season at home.

Northwestern knocked off the Hawkeyes in Kinnick two weeks ago.

"We've been to Iowa, all the guys on the team and Coach Brew," Gopher Tight End Nick Tow-Arnett said. "We're familiar with that and we played well there. That's good for us. It will give us more confidence. We just have to get the win this time."

What Minnesota Does Well…

-Most Hawkeye fans know that Ryan Donahue is a weapon in the punting game. Well, Minnesota gives little, if any, ground in this area with Blake Haudan. The Gophers rank ninth nationally in net punting, while the Hawkeyes are 18th.

-Minnesota also ranks sixth in punt returns at 15.67. Iowa is 79th on 7.77.

-The Golden Gophers also are very respectable on kick returns. They're ranked 38th in the country at 23.41 per return.

"You've seen them in the kicking game do some good things," Ferentz said. "They're a very talented group there. In the kicking game, the returner (Troy Stoudemire) has really impressed us. We had a terrible time last year against their kick return team."

-Minnesota Linebacker Lee Campbell is very active. He ranks 24th in the country for tackles per game (9.64), which is third in the Big Ten behind Greg Jones from Michigan State and Iowa's Pat Angerer.

Minnesota's Weaknesses…

-The Gophers rank 112th nationally in total offense (304.45 yards per game) and 107th in rushing the football (102.09 YPG). Both are the worst marks in the league.

-Minnesota's offensive line has suffered to protect Weber. It ranks 110th nationally in sacks allowed at 3.09 a game, which ranks last in the conference.

-The Gophers also have struggled to get at the quarterback. They rate 94th in the country at 1.45 per contest, also last in the Big Ten.

Extra Points

-Iowa will play host to two of the most highly regarded prospects in the 2010 recruiting class. Tight end C.J. Fiedorowicz will be on an official visit. He's down to Iowa and Illinois. Scout.com's overall No. 1 player regardless of position, Seantrel Henderson will be in town on an unofficial visit.

-Former Iowa Running Back Tavian Banks will serve as this week's honorary captain.

-ESPN (HD) will televise the game to a national cable audience. The game will also be available online at ESPN360.com. Dave Pasch, Bob Griese and Chris Spielman will call the action.

-Iowa is seeking to win as many as 10 games in a season for the seventh time in school history. Iowa has won 10 or more regular season games in just three seasons (1985, 1991, 2002). Iowa has won at least 10 games in three previous seasons (2002, 2003, 2004) under Coach Kirk Ferentz, including a school-record 11 wins in 2002.

-Senior members of the Iowa football program will be introduced Saturday during pre-game ceremonies. The Iowa seniors include LB Pat Angerer, OL Kyle Calloway, DB Joe Conklin, OL Dan Doering, OLB A.J. Edds, OL Rafael Eubanks, DL Chad Geary, FB Bryce Griswold, DB Taylor Herbst, OL Andy Kuempel, DL Travis Meade, TE Tony Moeaki, RB Jayme Murphy, OL Dace Richardson, DB Chris Rowell, TE Kyle Spading, and WR Trey Stross.

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