GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. HAWKEYES DEFENSE

Mitch Leidner passed for at least 280 yards in the past three games, all losses. The Gophers rushed for 144 yards against Michigan but just 33 at Ohio State. Iowa is potent up front, even with Drew Ott lost to a season-ending knee injury. Desmond King is tied for the most interceptions in the nation (eight). Advantage: Iowa

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Both teams have good punters and kickers, and neither team has returned a kickoff or punt for a touchdown this season. Advantage: Even

Player to watch

C.J. Beathard is the first QB in Iowa history to win his first 10 starts. He’s a good passer and also makes clutch plays with his legs, despite a lingering groin/hip injury. That’s a concern for the Gophers, who’ve had trouble containing scrambles.

 

THE OPPONENT

The Hawkeyes overcame numerous injuries and took a commanding lead in the Big Ten West last month with wins at Wisconsin and Northwestern. Still, according to Sports-Reference.com, the Hawkeyes have played the nation’s 75th-toughest schedule, while the Gophers have played the 13th-toughest.

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. HAWKEYES OFFENSE

Iowa is remarkably balanced, with 1,845 rushing yards and 1,863 passing yards. Jordan Canzeri will return from an ankle injury to join LeShun Daniels and Akrum Wadley as tailback options. The Gophers are missing starting defensive tackles Steven Richardson and Scott Ekpe. Advantage: Iowa

 

INTANGIBLES

Kinnick Stadium will be electrifying at night, and the Gophers can’t afford to get rattled. They have a minus-2 turnover ratio, compared to plus-11 for the Hawkeyes. Advantage: Iowa

 

 

JOE’S PREDICTION

 

27              20

IOWA        MINN

The Gophers would love to spoil Iowa’s party but would need some breaks, and the Hawkeyes aren’t giving teams many.