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In this case, our enemy is a varmint

NCAA Football: Northwestern at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve been trying to think of keys to this game for days and I legitimately just don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m a naturally pessimistic fan who is convinced that even my beloved 103-win Cubbies are going to lose to the Giants in the NLDS. Maybe the losses that Iowa endured in the B1G Championship Game and the Rose Bowl Game combined with the losses to an FCS team and a team that lost to an FCS team are finally taking a toll on my mental health. What can I say? I’m emotionally damaged goods.

The way I see it, there are really only two keys to the game this week. Iowa should be able to score some points on this Minnesota defense, who is giving up 26 points per game (compared to Iowa’s defense only giving up 18.4 points per game...and we know how miserable they have been through 5 games this season). I’m not overly concerned about the offense in this game. The big question mark is the defense.

Can the Hawkeyes stop….anybody?

Seriously though...can they? One of these Saturdays, I would like to go to bed knowing that the Iowa defense actually appeared to be capable of tackling somebody. It hasn’t happened yet, and I certainly don’t expect this week to be the week that it does. Iowa is giving up 182 yards per game on the ground alone, and they are about to face a Minnesota team that averages 228 rushing yards per game. I honestly believe the Gophers could run for 300 yards (or more...) on this Iowa defense. RB Shannon Brooks has looked good for the past two weeks, averaging 6.9 yards per carry with two touchdowns for the Gophers. He is the biggest threat to hurt Iowa on the ground. Unfortunately, the Hawkeyes have been pitiful against the run. I really can’t explain it any more plainly than that.

However, if Iowa can hold Minnesota to a number at or below their 228-yard average, I think the they have a chance at winning this game. I don’t see that happening, but I am almost certainly wrong more than I’m right. Can the Artist Formerly Known as “6 Seconds of Hell” prove me wrong?

Who hates Iowa?

I’m about to make a statement that pretty much nobody will agree with, and that’s fine. You have your opinions and I have mine. But here it is:

Mitch Leidner is the scariest quarterback in the B1G not named JT Barrett.

You’re laughing. It’s funny because it’s true.

Think about it. Which quarterback are you more afraid of than Mitch Leidner? Wes Lunt? No. Wilton Speight? No. Whatever Wisconsin’s new quarterback’s name is? No. Tommy “4 interceptions” Armstrong? Heck no.

Go down the list of B1G quarterbacks and find one scarier than Leidner (who isn’t JT Barrett). You can’t do it, unless you are one of those people who hates on Mitch Leidner for no reason (so...everyone).

By the way, I still don’t understand why people don’t like this guy. Is Mitch Leidner mean? Did he say something distasteful about your mother? Did he delete thousands of classified emails and then lie about it? Does he have a horrible spray tan and refuse to release his tax returns? The answer to all of those questions could be “yes,” but the way I see it, Leidner is surrounded by a pretty underwhelming talent pool in Gopherland. Yet, somehow, he still has been effective throwing the ball (63% completion percentage, 840 yards, 5 TD’s, 134.5 rating) and running it (141 yards, 3 TD’s). Maybe the Leidner hate is something I will never understand, like how the Green Bay Packers only play home games or how Ron Baker had 17 years of eligibility at Wichita State.

Anyway, before you try to tell me that another B1G quarterback is scarier than Leidner, consider the fact that he has torched the Hawkeyes the past two seasons and that he hates Iowa because he thinks they “strung him along” in his recruitment.

Does Iowa have an answer to their Mitch Leidner problem?

The Prediction

Iowa is going to lose. Call me a Debbie downer, but I’ve picked them to win every week thus far and that’s not working out so well for me. It’s time for a change of pace. Here are the facts:

Iowa can’t stop the run (87th nationally).

Iowa can’t run the ball (95th).

Iowa can’t pass the ball (96th).

Iowa can’t get all 11 men on the field for punt coverage.

Iowa can’t beat Minnesota.

Prediction: Minnesota 45, Iowa 34

Go Hawks.