A few short months ago, Iowa’s matchup with the Minnesota Golden Gophers looked like the first of several key games that would decide the winner of the Big Ten West. Now, both teams are looking to simply stay out of the Big Ten West cellar.
Perhaps the miserable start is why this one opened up as a pick’em in Vegas? It’s since moved a bit in Iowa’s favor and the Hawkeyes are now favored by 3.5 points. The over/under has also moved from an open at 55 to a new total of 59.5, which seems to align with the general consensus that Minnesota has a good offense but couldn’t stop a quality high school team from scoring more than two touchdowns.
** Stares in the general direction of Illinois **
After being wrong the first two weeks of the year as we all picked the Hawkeyes, we were wrong again last week when we took the Spartans and the points! So, surely we’re rolling with the reverse jinx and locking in another Iowa win, right?
This week, we’re back on the Hawkeye bandwagon. As a whole, we’re calling for a final score of Iowa 25, Minnesota 23. Only two of us are taking Minnesota straight up, but the quick math tells you on average we’re on the Gophers to cover the now 3.5 point spread. We’re also, perhaps more surprisingly, on the under with an implied total of just 48 points.
Here’s a look at our individual predictions.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO THINK ABOUT THIS TEAM ANYMORE. I HAVE PICKED INCORRECTLY EVERY WEEK.
Has this team turned a corner? Probably not! Can they beat Minnesota? I have no clue. I’m going to say they do, because why not, my record is already in the tank here. If they lose, I will pick them to lose more because they won the only game so far I have picked them to lose.
Iowa 24, Minnesota 17
I’m not of the opinion that Iowa’s annihilation of Michigan State was a fluke, rather a sign for things to come. There’s too much talent across the board for this Iowa team and Minnesota is not the team of last year, especially with Tanner Morgan underperforming. I think the Hawks win this one and win handily.
Iowa 38, Minnesota 24
What do we know about Iowa? They are wildly inconsistent on offense but solid and predictable on defense and special teams. The good news for Iowa is that Minnesota’s defense has been a mess when they aren’t facing a 4th string quarterback. I don’t see Iowa getting both a special teams and defensive touchdown this week, but could see turnovers or a big return spark the offense with great field position. Goodson, Sargent, and Kelly-Martin combine for 30 carries and generate enough offense for the Hawkeyes to even up the win-loss columns.
Iowa 29, Minnesota 18
Iowa’s defense is statistically one of the best in the conference, but the Hawkeyes haven’t faced a challenge quite like Tanner Morgan, Mohamed Ibrahim, and Rashod Bateman this season. The Gophers have a dangerous offense and will be highly motivated to get revenge against a Hawkeye team that spoiled their 2019 season. However, Minnesota’s defense is an absolute trainwreck after losing most of its production from last year, and Iowa should be able to run the ball at will against a Gopher front seven that has so far proven incapable of stopping it.
Iowa should have the edge in this game, but it’s worth getting nervous if the Gophers manage to jump out to an early lead. The Gophers have won 86% of games in which they’ve scored first under P.J. Fleck, and the Hawkeyes desperately need to avoid a situation where Ibrahim can slowly bleed the clock away on the ground, especially given Iowa’s passing game struggles and futility trying to mount game-winning drives so far this season.
Iowa 27, Minnesota 21
Oh no. We’re all on Iowa so far, which always has me uneasy when I’m feeling a smidge overconfident. And why wouldn’t we? Iowa smoked a can’t-be-that-bad Michigan State team and Minnesota did the same to a can-be-that-bad Illinois squad. I’ll be honest and say I’m legitimately afraid of Mo Ibrahim and Minnesota’s preferred style of play which takes the air out of the ball in a way which would make Kirk gush if he weren’t turned off by PJ Fleck’s antics.
The huge difference between last year’s Goofers and this year’s is run defense as they’re giving up nearly twice as many yards per carry (3.7 vs. 7.3). I fear Iowa will stick to the basics resulting in this game stretching well into the fourth quarter. Special teams prove to be the difference as Keith Duncan hits a game winner.
Iowa 31, Minnesota 28
This has been one of the most confounding Iowa seasons I can remember and we’re only three weeks in. The offense looked decent, but not as explosive as expected in week one while the defense looked suspect and in general the team was uncharacteristically undisciplined. Week two came around and while the mental mistakes largely evaporated and the defense looked better, the offense tried to complicate things to the point of forgetting how to score points. Just when we were all ready to throw this season out, the Hawkeyes came out last weekend and put it all together for one of the more impressive wins in some time.
So, who knows what the hell to expect out of them this week. It seems like the defense is settling in and will be what it always is under Phil Parker. The offense appears to hum along when Brian Ferentz gets out of his own way and let’s the run game do its thing. And we still haven’t seen a great game from Spencer Petras, who I promise you is capable of great games.
BUT I DON’T TRUST BRIAN OR THIS TEAM ANY FURTHER THAN I CAN THROW THEM!
Plus, I’ve missed every game this season. I finally picked against the Hawks last week and guess what, we won! So I’m calling it again. Iowa is losing this one in the most frustrating way possible. Brian doesn’t trust his defense and decides preemptively to throw it 50+ times again to “keep up” with the Gophers. Petras ends up throwing a pick-six while ISM fumbles trying to hurdle a trio of tacklers 20 yards downfield only to have it returned for a touchdown and Brian is proven right - they have to play catchup. Of course, they can’t.
Minnesota 31, Iowa 28
This one is pretty straightforward. I picked us to beat Purdue and Northwestern. Loss. Loss. I picked us to lose to Sparty. Win. You know where this is going. I am as superstitious as anyone you will meet. The Gophers may have the best QB/RB/WR trio in the Big 10. That makes me ill typing that. If our boys can slow Ibrahim and Bateman we will be happy campers. Unfortunately, the Flecker Rowers finally get a win against our beloved Hawkeyes.
Minnesota 24, Iowa 17
So funny what a win can do for your attitude!
After turning a leaf, I’m BACK on the Hawkeye wagon, and the fact we’re playing my least favorite school in the country makes it even easier. PJ Fleck, a true coaching genius, gets his chance to knock off the venerable Kirk Ferentz for the first time ever.
I laugh the power of a thousand red hot suns (and one red hot Ferentz son) at such a notion.
Not only does Minnesota STINK, allowing its opponents to score a combined 99 points in its two losses, Iowa has all the momentum of a mack truck following a win AND the return of Ihmir Smith-Marsette.
I’m actually glad this game is on a Friday. This was to be played on a Friday night in the Normal Times, too. You know why?
Fleck PETITIONED the Big Ten conference to get this on a Friday night, in an attempt to keep local high school football players away from the Iowa sideline as a recruiting tactic, since they’d all have their own games to play on Friday. How GD pathetic is that?
Give me the Hawks by a million.
Iowa 41, Minnesota 24
That’s what we’re thinking for tonight’s game, what say you Hawkeye fans?