Gophers vs. Iowa, 3 p.m. Saturday, Huntington Bank Stadium, FOX (Ch. 9), 100.3-FM

Riding a three-game winning streak, the Gophers will try to finish strong against the first of two traditional rivals, with a trip to Wisconsin up next week. The Hawkeyes also have won three in a row, with their defense and special teams excelling while the offense finds its footing.

Three big story lines

1. Hunting a trophy and a division title

Saturday's game will be for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy, but it also carries Big Ten West Division title importance. The Gophers, Iowa, Purdue and Illinois are tied atop the West with 4-3 conference records. If the Gophers win, they're still in the West title hunt. If Iowa wins, it might have a clear path to Indy.

2. Will P.J. Fleck finally beat Iowa?

Gophers coach P.J. Fleck is 0-5 against the Hawkeyes, and the losses in 2019 and 2021 prevented his team from reaching the Big Ten Championship Game. Last year, two big plays by Iowa's offense led to a 27-22 win in a game in which the Gophers outgained the Hawkeyes 409-277.

3. Can Iowa stop Mohamed Ibrahim?

Gophers running back Mohamed Ibrahim ranks fifth nationally with 1,261 rushing yards and leads the nation with 18 rushing touchdowns. He's surpassed 100 rushing yards in 18 consecutive games and will be challenged by an Iowa defense that's allowing 88.6 rushing yards per game, which ranks eighth nationally.

Two key matchups

Gophers center John Michael Schmitz vs. Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell

While Schmitz, maybe the nation's best center, and Campbell, one of the top linebackers, might not knock heads on every play, they will battle. If Schmitz and his linemates can get the ground game going against Campbell and the Iowa defense, good things can happen for the Gophers.

Athan Kaliakmanis vs. DBs Riley Moss and Cooper DeJean

Kaliakmanis is a redshirt freshman presumably making his third career start with veteran Tanner Morgan dealing with an "upper body" injury. Moss, the reigning Big Ten Defensive Back of the Year, and DeJean, who has four interceptions, lead a ball-hawking Iowa secondary. Kaliakmanis must be accurate in his decisions and passes to avoid feeding Iowa turnovers.

One stat that matters

51-13 Margin by which Iowa has outscored the Gophers in the first quarter in its seven-game winning streak in the series.

The Gophers will win if … they get difference-making plays from their quarterback, meaning the ability to stretch the field with his arm and legs; Ibrahim continues his dominance against a strong Iowa defense; and they avoid turnovers and are get a solid performance on special teams.

The Hawkeyes will win if … they get an early lead, as they have in all seven games in their winning streak against the Gophers; they shut down Minnesota's running game and put the onus on Kaliakmanis to pass; and they frustrate the Gophers by decisively winning the special teams battle.


The oddsmakers set the over/under for this game at 32½ points, so they expect both defenses to take control. The Gophers have the nation's fourth-ranked scoring defense at 13.1 points allowed per game, just ahead of Iowa's 13.9. Neither team has passed the ball effectively or often, so the running game must shoulder the burden.

That's where Ibrahim comes in. He's rushed for 465 yards and eight touchdowns over the past three games, and his 861 yards after contact lead the nation, according to Pro Football Focus College. Expect heavy doses of Ibrahim, who's cementing his status as one of the greatest backs in Gophers history.

My expectation: Ibrahim has a solid day, the Gophers get just enough from their passing attack, and Joe Rossi's defense steps up in a tight game. Gophers 17, Iowa 10.