Scouting report: Gophers vs. Iowa
2:30 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium (BTN, 100.3-FM)
A look at the Hawkeyes
Iowa is off to a 3-1 start, but the one that got away haunts the Hawkeyes. Iowa led Wisconsin 17-14 deep into the fourth quarter before the Badgers marched 88 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 57 seconds left. Wisconsin tacked on another TD with 22 seconds left for the 28-17 victory after Iowa threw an interception. The Hawkeyes committed three turnovers, including one on a fumbled punt return that gave Wisconsin the ball on the Iowa 10-yard line. Like the Gophers, Iowa had its bye last week. The Hawkeyes will be playing their first game away from Kinnick Stadium this season.
Who to watch: Noah Fant, TE
A year after leading the nation’s tight ends with 11 touchdown receptions and 16.5 yards per catch, the 6-5, 241-pound junior is having another standout season, with 15 catches for 169 yards and a team-best four TDs. He creates matchup problems for opponents, as the Gophers found out last year when Fant caught a 45-yard TD pass in a 17-10 Hawkeyes victory. Gophers coach P.J. Fleck is beyond impressed. “He’s probably the best tight end I’ve watched in my head-coaching career — by far,’’ he said. “He’s incredibly talented. Run blocking, in the pass game. We’ve seen some really good ones, and I’d say he’s got the complete package.’’
From the coach: Kirk Ferentz
In his 20th season as Iowa’s coach, Ferentz has 146 victories with the Hawkeyes, most in school history. His teams are 31-13 since 2015, and this year’s Hawkeyes have designs on the Big Ten West title, though the loss to Wisconsin means they’ll need help. Ferentz liked what he saw against the Badgers, for the most part. “Overall, I thought our team really played with good effort,’’ he said. “Obviously, we had several costly errors that really had an impact in the game, and are great learning opportunities for our football team. … The question is how quickly can we learn, how much can we grow, how much can we improve and how fast can we do it?”