Minnesota (4-5) vs. Iowa (9-0)
Time: 7:00 P.M CT, Saturday, November 14th
TV: BTN - Kevin Kugler (play-by-play), Matt Millen (Analyst) and Lisa Byington (Sideline)
Last week: Minnesota lost at home to #2 Ohio State, 28-14, Iowa beat Indiana on the road 35-27
All-time series: Gophers lead the series 62-44-2 (51-14 Minnesota in Minneapolis, November 2014)
Vegas betting line: Iowa (-12.5) Over/Under (46 points)
Know Your Enemy: Five questions with Iowa publisher Derek Young
Five things you need to know
1) Minnesota travels to Iowa on Saturday for a night game against the No. 8 Hawkeyes. Once again, the schools will be playing for the coveted Floyd of Rosedale, which is a solid bronze pig that is 15.5 inches tall, 21 inches long and weighs 98.3 pounds. Minnesota leads the all-time series 62-44-2 and is 42-36-2 against Iowa when Floyd has been on the line. The Gophers enter Saturday’s tilt with possession of Floyd after a rousing 51-14 victory last season in Minneapolis. The Gophers, who scored 51 straight points last year to reclaim Floyd, have won three of the last five meetings with Iowa
2) The 51 points that unranked Minnesota scored on Iowa last year were the most it scored against the Hawkeyes since a 55-7 win in 1949. The 51 points were also the most that Iowa had yielded to an unranked team since that same 1949 game. The 51 points were also the most that Iowa has allowed since it lost 56-35 to No. 4 Ohio State in 1995 and were also the most that Iowa has allowed under Kirk Ferentz (has coached Iowa for 209 games since 1999).
3) Minnesota is in the midst of playing 10 of 16 games against a ranked team in the AP Top 25 (poll started in 1936) for only the second time in school history. It could be said that Minnesota - according to AP voters - is therefore playing its most difficult schedule ever right now. The Gophers previously played 10 ranked teams in a 16-game span, which included the final three games of the 1990 season, the entire 1991 season and the first two games of the 1992 season (highest ranked team in that stretch was No. 4 Michigan). Iowa is ranked No. 8 and will be the fifth ranked team that Minnesota will play this season. The Gophers opened the year hosting No. 2 TCU and have played at No. 1 Ohio State, No. 15 Michigan and at No. 16 Northwestern. The Gophers ended 2014 with four straight games against No. 8 Ohio State, No. 21 Nebraska, No. 14 Wisconsin and No. 16 Missouri. Minnesota plays current No. 23 Wisconsin on Nov. 28.
4) The Gophers play at No. 8 Iowa on Saturday, which means that Minnesota will play three straight games against a top-15 teams (AP rankings at time of game) in No. 15 Michigan, No. 1 Ohio State and No. 8 Iowa. The last time Minnesota played three straight games against top 15 teams was 2002 when it played No. 6 Ohio State, No. 13 Michigan and No. 6 Iowa. Baylor is the only other team scheduled to play three straight top 15 opponents, as it still faces No. 12 Oklahoma, No. 5 Oklahoma State and No. 13 TCU this year.
5) Minnesota played 8-0 Ohio State last week and faces 9-0 Iowa this week. No other team is scheduled to play two straight games against at 8-0 teams (Baylor has consecutive games against 8-1 Oklahoma and 9-0 Oklahoma State, while Wake Forest plays 8-1 Notre Dame and then 9-0 Clemson). Minnesota is one of three Big Ten teams to play No. 1 Ohio State and No. 8 Iowa (Indiana, Illinois are the others). The Gophers and Indiana are the only teams to face No. 1 Ohio State, No. 8 Iowa and No. 15 Michigan this year. Minnesota is the only team that plays No. 1 Ohio State, No. 8 Iowa, No. 15 Michigan and No. 23 Wisconsin (teams combined 33-4 this year). Minnesota is the only team to play No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 TCU in the regular season (rankings at time of game).
Iowa players to watch
1) C.J. Beathard, quarterback: Beathard in his first year as the undisputed starter for the Hawkeyes has been a very good game manager for Iowa this season. Beathard is averaging just over 200 yards a game and has thrown 10 touchdowns to three interceptions this season. Minnesota is going to have to stop the run and force Beathard to beat them.
2) Jordan Canzeri, running back: Canzeri is Iowa's leading rusher with 136 carries for 698 yards and nine touchdowns and is coming off a 23 carry performance last week where he also had two touchdowns. The Hawkeyes have 25 rushing touchdowns this season, so Minnesota will have to stiffle them on the ground for a chance at this game.
3) Desmond King, defensive back: King is leading the country in interceptions with eight and has just been a playmaking machine for Iowa this season. King also returns punts and kicks for Iowa, so Minnesota will have to contain Iowa's best playmaker.
Keys to the game
1. Quick start: It's been well documented how Minnesota has been sluggish in the first quarter as their opponents are outscoring them 54-13 and if they're going to keep the Hawkeyes in check, that has to change starting tomorrow night. Limegrover and this Gopher offense have to have something up their sleeve as Iowa's defense is averaging less then 17 points a game. For an offense that's had some success in recent weeks, that needs to continue to be the norm. Iowa is outscoring their opponents in the 1st quarter by a 34 point margin as well.
2. Stopping the run: Iowa is averaging over 200 yards a game on the ground this season and has 25 rushing touchdowns, so if Minnesota is going to give the Hawkeyes their first loss of the season, they have to stop the rushing attack. Minnesota could get Steven Richardson back this week, which would be huge, but Minnesota needs another good game from their linebackers in Cody Poock, Jack Lynn and De'Vondre Campbell.
3. Big plays: If you're going to beat a top 5 team on the road, you're going to have to force some turnovers and convert on some big plays. Minnesota has to get the running game going a little bit against this Iowa front seven that has only allowed three rushing touchdowns so far this season, so Mitch Leidner is going to have to be on his game. Guys like KJ Maye, Brandon Lingen and Rashad Still are going to have to have huge games and I think they will if the Gophers pull off the upset. Maybe KiAnte Hardin also has a hand in the return game as well.
I believe Minnesota matches up well with Iowa and pulls off the upset in Kinnick tomorrow night.