Big Ten Game of the Week – #8 Minnesota at #20 Iowa

By Ryan Clark

Spread:  Iowa -3  

O/U:  44 ½

Game Time/ TV/ Location/ Weather:  3:00 CT/ Fox/ Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA/ High of 42, partly cloudy, winds 10-15 mph

Minnesota:  The #8 Gophers (9-0, 6-0) are coming off the biggest win this program has seen in a long time – a 31-26 victory over then 4th-ranked Penn St.  I hear the afterparty lasted for days.  The defense, while not outstanding, got three picks off Sean Clifford, including the one in the end zone at the end of the game that would have given the Nittany Lions the win.  Tanner Morgan was nearly perfect, as he went 18/20 for 339 yards and three TD’s, good for a QBR for 98.1.  Of those yards, Rashod Bateman caught 203 of them.  The Gophers would tally 460 yards of offense on the day.  And this was against the Nittany Lions’ 9th-ranked defense.

Iowa:  The #20 Hawkeyes (6-3, 3-3) are coming off a disappointing 24-22 loss at Wisconsin last weekend.  This setback ruined any chance of winning the B1G West this year.  Iowa got themselves into a hole early, and while they rallied in the 4th, they came up just short.  The Hawkeyes had a chance to tie the game when they scored with 3:12 left, but the two-point conversion failed.  So far, this has been a typical year for the Hawkeyes – good defense, mediocre offense, beat and lose to the teams the teams their supposed to.  They have yet to win against a ranked team this year.

Final Analysis & Pick:  Some stats to consider for this one:

Iowa’s three losses have come by a total of 14 points.  They have the defense to keep them in any game, but their offense leaves a lot to be desired.  I sometimes question their desire to run it up the middle on every single play, but I have a cushy office job.  What do I know, right?  The Gophers, meanwhile, actually mix in some passing to go along with their rushing attack.  Novel idea.  The line started out at Iowa -2, but has since moved to the -3 that it’s at now.  I’m not sure I understand this.  Minnesota LB Kamal Martin (46 tackles, two forced fumbles, two INT’s) is listed as questionable, but that’s it.  Iowa has quite a few players listed as questionable, including future star RB Tyler Goodson.  The Gophers’ offense is clearly better than Iowa’s, and the defenses are comparable.  Plus, I have to wonder if Iowa is feeling a little deflated after last week’s loss, while Minnesota is riding a wave of confidence.  Go with Minnesota plus the points here.