Saturday's meeting between Big Ten West co-leaders Iowa and Minnesota is, in a sense, a showdown between two programs riding low.
The Gophers, more than two-touchdown favorites over Illinois last week, stumbled in a 14-6 loss that brought them back to the pack.
Iowa, meanwhile, started 6-0 and was ranked No. 2 in the country before back-to-back losses to Purdue and Wisconsin and a narrow win over a bad Northwestern team. The Hawkeyes scored just 31 points combined in those three games.
To take the temperature across the border, I welcomed Andrew Downs on the Daily Delivery podcast on Friday.
Downs, a radio host and writer in Iowa, said that the main ingredients of the 6-0 start — including a steady enough offense and turnover-creating defense — largely disappeared in recent weeks.
"You saw all of the bad things kind of come together in the two losses," Downs said. "I don't think any Hawkeye fan was overly surprised that they were tripped up — certainly not by Purdue, which has beaten Iowa four of the last five years — and you always wonder about a trip to Wisconsin. ... But it was certainly disappointing to see all of the hope and hype disappear so quickly. ... I don't think any Iowa fan is overly confident that they're going to run the table and make a play for the Big Ten West this season. It feels like they kind of are who they are."
Iowa made a change at quarterback in the midst of its most recent win over Northwestern, with Alex Padilla replacing the injured (and ineffective) Spencer Petras. Padilla is slated to start against the Gophers, which will add another wrinkle to the rivalry game.
Minnesota leads the all-time series 62-50-2, but Iowa has won six straight and hasn't lost at home to the Gophers since 1999. When playing for Floyd of Rosedale, the all-time series is tied 42-42-2. That tie will be broken Saturday.
"If Iowa shows up and plays the way it is capable of playing, I think Iowa can win this game fairly easily," Downs said. "If Iowa shows up the way it did against Purdue and Wisconsin, Minnesota is going to get its first win inside Kinnick Stadium in two decades."