GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. HAWKEYES DEFENSE

Iowa has the Big Ten’s fourth-worst rushing defense. Northwestern’s Justin Jackson rushed for 171 yards against the Hawkeyes. That bodes well for Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks. Mitch Leidner has a 72.5 completion percentage against Iowa with five TDs and zero interceptions. Advantage: Gophers

SPECIAL TEAMS

Iowa has two field goal attempts in five games, with Keith Duncan hitting from 22 yards and 24 yards. Emmit Carpenter is 9-for-9 for the Gophers, with five beyond 40 yards. Advantage: Gophers

Player to watch

Iowa cornerback Desmond King won the Jim Thorpe Award last year, as the nation’s top defensive back. This year, opponents have targeted his receiver just 13 times, with seven completions. The average distance of the routes run against King: just 3.6 yards. He’s dangerous as a punt and kick returner, too.

THE OPPONENT

Iowa gave Kirk Ferentz a contract extension through 2026 last month. Its losses to North Dakota State and Northwestern both came at home, but the Hawkeyes have won seven consecutive road games, dating to 2014.

GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. HAWKEYES OFFENSE

Iowa ranks 11th in the Big Ten in rushing offense (143.2) and has given up the second-most sacks in the conference (2.8 per game). C.J. Beathard has taken several hits, and the Hawkeyes lost receiver Matt VandeBerg to a foot injury. But Minnesota’s defense is searching for consistency. Advantage: Iowa

INTANGIBLES

The game’s not sold out, so Iowa could have a big fan presence. The Hawkeyes marching band will be there, with Minnesota’s band headed to Iowa next year. Advantage: Iowa

JOE’S PREDICTION

MINNESOTA 27

IOWA 24

Iowa’s defense is tougher than Penn State’s, especially at linebacker. But Leidner steers the win, and Minnesota’s defense finally hunkers down.