Hawkeye Insider Final Take: Minnesota

HI's Rob Howe offers up some last news and notes before Iowa finishes up the regular season against Minnesota on Saturday.

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Dace Richardson posted on his Face Book page last week that it was his goal to return to action for his Senior Day at Kinnick Stadium. He broke a bone in his leg at Michigan State on Oct. 24.

I've heard some things this week that the offensive lineman was pushing towards reaching that goal. It doesn't look like that will happen. At that's too bad because this will likely be his last game at Kinnick Stadium.

If Richardson gets healthy by the bowl and is in good shape for postseason NFL workouts, he'll probably forego a chance at petitioning the NCAA for a sixth year. He's suffered through some serious injuries while at Iowa and after five years in college is probably ready for his body to test the pros instead of taking more pounding as an amateur.

CBS Sports named Richardson a mid-season all-American. The Illinois native played tackle and guard this season before the injury.

Draft Projections - I'm hearing that A.J. Edds will be the first Hawkeye senior selected in the NFL Draft coming up in April. And, please, don't take this as a knock on Pat Angerer, who also will be drafted.

Edds just fits the mold of what pro teams are looking for in an outside linebacker. The 6-foot-4, 244-pound Indiana native covers a lot of ground and is advanced in pass coverage, a much sought after commodity in the NFL.

Edds has four years of college tape to help him and he will test well at the Senior Bowl and the combine, if he's invited to those events. I'm hearing Edds is as high as a second-rounder right now with a chance to move up.

Another Early Exit? - Last week, I reported in this space that I was hearing juniors Amari Spievey and Adrian Clayborn were leaning towards passing on their senior seasons for the NFL. Since then, the talk about Bryan Bulaga following them has picked up.

Bulaga is popping up more and more in mock drafts as a first-round pick. That translates into guaranteed money and a sizeable signing bonus.

Like I said last week, these decisions are not final and things can change. The Iowa coaches will make sure they get the best advice, but these decisions may not be based completely on improving draft stock. Leaving early might be the right thing to do for their families.

Bad Reaction - I heard from a few people this week that the reason Brandon Wegher missed the game at Ohio State was due to a bad reaction to a cortisone shot. It made him very sick to his stomach, which created weakness and dehydration.

Wegher has been back at practice this week and should be ready to go along with Adam Robinson on Saturday.

The Prediction - I'm seeing and hearing a lot of predictions calling for a Hawkeye blowout of Minnesota on Saturday. I hope you all are right.

I can't go there with you. I keep seeing flashbacks of Arkansas State, UNI, Michigan, Northwestern

The good news is that Iowa won three of those four games at Kinnick Stadium this year. I think they'll win this one, but I think it will be closer than some expect it to be.

Minnesota is a much improved defensive team. The Gophers also boast strong special teams units. Yes, their offense is abysmal, but they're solid in two of three phases.

Add to that Minnesota was embarrassed 55-0 by the Hawkeyes last season in the final Gopher game played at the Metro Dome, and the visitors might not be as lame as some folks may see them.

I think the Iowa coaches will continue to take some baby steps with freshman QB James Vandenberg. They'll try to ride Robinson and Wegher to victory.

While I think the Hawkeyes are jacked up for their seniors' final game in Kinnick, I believe some of that will be offset by a natural letdown following the emotional contest in Columbus a week ago.

This will be a big day for the Iowa defense. Emotional leaders and senior linebackers Pat Angerer and A.J. Edds will see to that.

If the Hawkeye offense can just be proficient and mostly mistake free, that will be enough to get Iowa to 10 regular-season wins and keep it in the BCS discussion.

Iowa 20, Minnesota 10

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