Expectations can be the most dangerous thing for a team that looks like it is turning a corner but hasn't quite proven it is around the bend yet.


That said, they can also be an opportunity to prove the early adopters were right.

This brings us to Saturday's Gophers vs. Iowa game. Vegas says the Hawkeyes are a touchdown favorite. Your eyes might tell you differently after seeing an improved Gophers defense lead the way to a 4-0 nonconference start while Iowa looked shaky in going 2-2 (both losses at home, to Iowa State and Central Michigan).

Some of the Big Ten experts? Well, their eyes say Floyd of Rosedale stays in Minnesota for a third consecutive year.

Those making predictions for ESPN.com and the Big Ten Network web site -- two per site -- are in the Gophers camp. All four of them are taking the road underdog to win.

Per ESPN.com:

Brian Bennett: Somehow, Iowa is favored in this game. But even though it's at Kinnick Stadium, all the good vibes belong to Minnesota going into Saturday. The Gophers' pass defense has been strong, while James Vandenberg and the Hawkeyes' passing attack has sputtered. Mark Weisman will batter his way to 160 yards, but the Gophers come up with two picks and a special teams score to hogtie the Hawks. ... Minnesota 21, Iowa 14

Adam Rittenberg: I went against the Gophers last week and paid the price. Not happening again. The Gophers' defense contains Weisman and forces some mistakes from Vandenberg, while the run game surges behind Donnell Kirkwood. It'll be an up-and-down day for Max Shortell, but he finds senior tight end and Iowa native John Rabe for the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter. ... Minnesota 24, Iowa 20

And BTN.com:

Tom Dienhart's pick: Minnesota, 24-21 – This will be three wins in a row for the Golden Gophers over the Hawkeyes, as Minnesota’s defense continues to play well vs. an Iowa attack that can’t get on track.

Brent Yarina's pick: Minnesota, 24-16 – Who’s more legit: Iowa RB Mark Weisman or the Minnesota defense? Based on my pick, I’m more sold on the vastly improved Gopher defense that can stop both the run and the pass.

You'll notice all the scores are almost identical and all the games are tight in their predictions. Is it possible that Minnesota is simply the better team? We'll find out Saturday, with the team suddenly creating some expectations.