Just as the Hawkeyes got their first win of the season, the Minnesota Fleckers tallied one in the win column as well. Iowa played an up-and-down Michigan State team, while the Rodents beat Illinois’ 4th string quarterback. Assuming Iowa does Iowa and continues to run the football, I’m going to focus on the Gophers for this week’s stats to watch.
Three-Headed-Monster (that would be an ugly, scary Gopher)
It sickens me a little to say this, but I have to. The Gophers have the best quarterback, running back, and wide receiver trio in the Big Ten. Apologies to Ohio State. Justin Fields is a baller, and the Buckeyes just plug and play 5 stars all day long, but Minnesota has arguably the best in the conference. In order for the Hawks to leave town (I’m just a few minutes from TCF, so Kirk and company, please feel free to stop by. I’m serving bacon.) with Floyd, Iowa’s defense will need to slow down Mohamed Ibrahim and Rashod Bateman. Morgan is having a decent season; he is a nice player who makes good choices. Running back Mohamed Ibrahim has 10 rushing TD’s in 3 games this year. He’s also averaging over 190 yards per game on the ground. That’s Tecmo Bowl-like. Rashod Bateman has just one TD on the year, but he is averaging over 100 yards receiving per contest. It will be interesting to see how much Iowa’s defense has improved since the Purdue game. Bateman and David Bell are comparable. Morgan is better than Purdue’s QB. Mo Ibrahim is Zander Horvath’s big brother (daddy sounded kinda weird). If you remember the Hawks made Horvath (129 yards) look like Mike Alstott. If the Hawks do a nice job on these two players, I like our chances (Capt. Obvious).
Gophers’ Defensive Line vs. Hawks’ Offensive Line
Football games are won in the trenches. Despite being down two starters vs Sparty, the Hawks’ O-Line performed very well. Minnesota’s defense is giving up 36.0 points per game. They are yielding 239 yards on the ground and 242 through the air. That’s not very good. The Gophers do have a couple nice playmakers on the defensive line. #34 Boye Mafe has 3.5 sacks and 3.5 TFL on the year. In addition to Mafe, #9 Esezi Otomewo is a nice player. If our front five can keep Spencer Petras clean I like our chances.
The “X” Factor
If the game comes down to the wire Iowa’s special teams should make the difference. The Gophers have had some kicking inconsistencies with Brock Walker and Michael Lantz.
Their punter is averaging 34.8 yards a punt. The Hawks get Ihmir Smith-Marsette back (look for him to explode) and Charlie Jones is electric in the punt return game (he just housed another one vs Michigan State). Up to this point Iowa’s special teams units are walking away with the team MVP award. Who hates Iowa? Not me. Go Hawks!