The Call: Gophers at Iowa

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 29, 2012 - 12:23 AM

Iowa has scored the fewest points in the Big Ten, leading to a disappointing 2-2 start -- including home losses to Iowa State and Central Michigan.

THE OPPONENT

Iowa has scored the fewest points in the Big Ten, leading to a disappointing 2-2 start -- including home losses to Iowa State and Central Michigan.

GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. IOWA DEFENSE

Max Shortell makes his second consecutive start, and for once the sophomore quarterback won't have a quirky defense to contend with. The Hawkeyes play a standard 4-3, don't blitz much, and depend upon their size up front to slow down opposing offenses. Look for the Gophers to give Shortell more to do this week -- longer passes, more QB draws. Advantage: Gophers

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. IOWA OFFENSE

This is the pivotal matchup, given Mark Weisman averaged 8 yards per carry last week and has scored three TDs in each of his past two games. The Gophers pass rush has spearheaded the defense's great improvement so far, but today, the line's task is more subtle: containing Weisman's blockers so the linebackers can bring him down. Advantage: Iowa

SPECIAL TEAMS

Think the Hawkeyes have worked on kick coverage this week? The Gophers pulled off an onside kick against Iowa in each of their past two meetings, and Central Michigan managed one last week. Iowa kicker Mike Meyer is the league's best; he's 9-for-10 on field goals, including a 50-yarder. Neither team has shown much of a return game, but the Gophers cover kicks well. Advantage: Iowa

INTANGIBLES

The Gophers haven't played a road game since August, and that one, in Vegas, had little atmosphere. Kinnick Stadium will be jammed with fans who are impatient about the Hawkeyes' recent drought in rivalry games. Can Shortell handle the noise? Advantage: Iowa

PREDICTION

Shortell breaks off a couple of big runs and hits A.J. Barker for a few big gainers. But Weisman bowling-balls his way to 150 yards and two scores, and the game, and Floyd of Rosedale's address, is decided on the final possession. Say, Shortell over the middle to a tight end? Gophers 20, Hawkeyes 17

NUMBERS TO KNOW

0 Plays of 30 or more yards allowed by the Gophers defense, the only team in the nation without one.

1934 Last time Minnesota opened its Big Ten season against Iowa.

DON'T FORGET ABOUT

Mike Henry, Gophers FB Playing despite a broken right hand, he will be critical to freeing TB Donnell Kirkwood.

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