By Mike Hendrickson
Minnesota will continue its tough schedule against undefeated No. 8 Iowa. A full breakdown and score prediction can be seen below:
When Minnesota runs the ball:
The Gophers running game has lost its rhythm as of late. First year running backs Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks haven’t had many good games recently, and will be facing a very tough Iowa rushing defense. The Hawkeyes allow 101.4 running yards a game; good for ninth in the Football Bowl Subdivision and have only allowed three touchdowns on the ground, best in the FBS, The freshmen duo may find a groove before the end of the season, but it will be hard to do in this game.
Matchup to watch: RB Rodney Smith vs. DE Nate Meier
When Iowa runs the ball:
Iowa’s main running back, senior Jordan Canzeri, returns to action this week after missing the last two games. Canzeri is averaging 5.1 yards a carry this season and is supplemented by sophomore Akrum Wadley and junior LeShun Daniels Jr., who all average over 10 carries a game. Iowa’s overall rushing offense ranks 32nd in the FBS and Minnesota’s rushing defense ranks 53rd. The Gophers will limit the Hawkeyes rushing attack, but it will be hard for them to completely stop them.
Matchup to watch: RB Jordan Canzeri vs. DE Theiren Cockran
When Minnesota passes the ball:
Redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Leidner has been picking up the slack as the running game has fallen. The Gophers have passed for over 280 yards in their last three games. Iowa’s passing defense is good, as they are tied for 39th in the FBS, but Leidner has passed well against better pass defenses recently.
Matchup to watch: WR KJ Maye vs. CB Desmond King
When Iowa passes the ball:
Iowa’s passing offense is the weakest part of its game. Junior quarterback C.J. Beathard has been decent this season with a 10 touchdowns and three interceptions, but he hasn’t been tested by tough passing defenses that much. Even with the big loss of junior cornerback Jalen Myrick, Minnesota’s secondary is still tough and not one Iowa should take lightly.
Matchup to watch: WR Matt VandeBerg vs. CB Briean Boddy-Calhoun
Other key factors:
Minnesota annihilated Iowa last year in a 51-14 win in Minneapolis. However, this is a very different Iowa team and it comes into this game with a chance at the College Football Playoff this season.
Iowa 31, Minnesota 21
Nine teams have tried to beat Iowa this year and none have succeeded. The Gophers will have to give back the Floyd of Rosedale and head to Minneapolis on a four-game losing streak.
Mike’s prediction record so far this season: 8-1