Well, another week, another battle for a trophy and another game where a win knocks a team out of contention for the West. Will it be another week without offense?
Vegas sure thinks so! Our friends over at DraftKings Sportsbook opened this one at Iowa -5.5 with an over/under at 32.5 total points. That was the third lowest point total since such things started being tracked back in 1995. The two that were lower? Iowa vs. Kentucky in last year’s Music City Bowl and.... Iowa at Minnesota a season ago. Both hit the under.
But third-lowest isn’t good enough and the betting public has taken this one as low as they can go. The over/under has drifted down to an absurd 30.5 total points, making this the lowest point total in gambling history. Seriously.
Here at The Pants, we’re SMASHING the under. There is no limit to how low the offense can go. Not a single one of us is calling for the over to hit and on average, we’re calling for a total of just over 26 points.
As for the outcome of the game, we’re a bit more torn as 43% of the staff is calling for Iowa to lose this one outright. However, with the line falling to just 3.5 late in the week, you now have 57% of the staffers calling for Iowa to cover the spread. On average, we’re calling for Iowa to win 14-12, so well on the under but Minnesota with the points.
Here’s a look at our individual predictions for this week’s battle for Floyd of Rosedale.
Do I think Iowa’s offense is getting better? No I do not. Do I think it’s remotely close to acceptable? No I do not. Do I think it found enough in the running game a week ago to limp to a win if virtually every matchup the rest of the season. Yes. Shockingly, yes.
This offensive line is actually sort of coming together. The passing game is a tire fire, but the Hawkeyes imposed their will on WISCONSIN in the second half last week and that’s enough for me to say I think they can do that on and off the rest of the way. And as bad as Brian may be, I still think there’s an opening here for the play-action passing game to actually show up given the running game success.
And that defense? It’s not getting worse. I expect them to do to Minnesota what the Gophers will try to do to Iowa. Iowa’s offense is worse, but their defense is much better and I think we see 2+ takeaways, potentially a pick-6 and that’s enough to get Iowa a short field and basically gift them a pair of field goals, maybe more. The offense might just stumble into another score as well if there truly is something coming together in the run game.
Prediction: Iowa 17, Minnesota 13
As bad as Iowa’s offense has been this year, they’re weirdly finding a path that removes this from the “shit show” category and into the “only kind of a shit show” grouping. It’s coming together on the offensive line. We’ve now seen multiple weeks post-Penn State mess where the run game has come alive. They’re averaging just over 5 yards a carry the last two weeks, and they have a run defense coming to town in Minnesota that’s a wreck.
Expect Minnesota’s defensive rankings to go up after playing Iowa because Iowa’s pass game is a total disaster zone and the day looks windy, but Iowa could hammer them with the run game. Iowa also has the best unit in the game, their defense, and that gets it done. Iowa leans on the defense and their best remaining offensive players and takes another win over Minnesota, their 9th straight, taking Iowa’s continuous run in possession of Floyd of Rosedale over 3,000 days.
Prediction: Iowa 23, Minnesota 7
Before living in Minnesota, the Iowa State Cyclones were number one on my list of teams I detest. Living in Minneapolis, I have come to very much dislike the boat-rowing Fleckers. I think Pajamas Fleck is a good coach. I just don’t care for his sprinting, rowing, and pre-planned video celebrations of him jumping up onto his players in the locker room. Our squad is slowly becoming (in my opinion) a national darling as the Ugly Duckling who one day turns into a beautiful punting swan. I’m nervous about this game. It has a letdown vibe much like last year’s Nebraska game. Also, eventually, PJ is going to beat us. Our offense lost another weapon (we didn’t have a ton to begin with). I picked against our black and gold-clad boys last week and we beat Sconnie. I’m rolling with that this week.
Prediction: Minnesota 13, Iowa 9
After what we saw last week in Madison, I have no idea what to expect from this game. First, Minnesota’s offense is almost as bad as Iowa’s and Athan Kaliakmanis is averaging an INT a game, which bodes well for us. Second, their defense is significantly worse than Iowa’s, giving up nearly 12 more ppg. Third, recent history is against them with PJ Fleck having never beaten Kirk Ferentz, and the Gophers having failed to win at Kinnick since 1999.
All that being said, Iowa is without it’s 3 best offensive weapons, and injuries are beginning to pile up. Each of their last 3 wins have come with significant costs, and I’m getting worried that the checks they’ve been writing are about to get cashed. I don’t want to pick against Iowa in this game, and I really hope that they go out and prove me wrong like they did last week, but I feel like this may be the week that the chickens come home to roost, and Floyd heads up North for a year.
Prediction: Minnesota 17, Iowa 13
This game has “letdown” written all over it. Iowa has some confidence after beating the rival Badgers and on paper Minnesota shouldn’t present the type of challenge they have in recent years. PJ Fleck hasn’t beaten Iowa ever and the Gophers haven’t won in Iowa City this millennium. The Hawkeyes have been surprisingly effective at running the ball in the last three games and the expectation is they should continue to improve.
And yet there’s still a sense that the house of cards will come crashing down at any moment. You don’t lose your starting quarterback and top three tight ends and not expect it to cost you at some point no matter the competition, and Iowa wasn’t lighting the world on fire to begin with. Minnesota is as challenged on offense as Iowa, averaging 21.7 points per game, good for 119th. We still don’t know if up and coming running back Darius Taylor will play, but the blueprint remains the same regardless. The Hawkeye defense needs to prioritize stopping the run and force Athan Kaliakmanis to beat them through the air. Meanwhile, the offense needs to continue to improve on the ground to wear down the Gophers deep into the game.
I’ll keep playing with house money. Iowa keeps Floyd and gets to a much needed bye week 7-1.
Prediction: Iowa 17, Minnesota 13
Three words: Bet. The. Under.
Seven of Iowa’s eight consecutive wins over Minnesota have been one-score games, and with two bad offenses taking the field, this game has all the makings of a defensive slugfest. While Minnesota is due to win Floyd back eventually, this is not the year. The Gophers’ middling defense, combined with the uncertain status of running back Darius Taylor, make it tough to justify picking against the Hawkeyes this week.
Prediction: Iowa 16, Minnesota 10
I don’t know what to think about this team anymore. I’ve been wrong the last few weeksk so...I’m going to go with the gut feeling I’ve had all year and my gut feeling alone: Minnesota takes this one. I had similar feeling last year about the Iowa State game and look how that turned out. It’s been eight years for them, and this is a team that, while especially good on defense and special teams, has an offense that’s seemingly one bad moment away from utter despair. Pair that with a team hungry for a win after nearly a decade (and the fact that now literally EVERYONE thinks we win this game) and baby, you got a Hawkey letdown stew goin’!
Prediction: Minnesota 9, Iowa 6
That’s how we see things playing out. How about you, Hawkeyes fans? Let us know your score predictions in the comments below and Go Hawks!