Iowa looking to keep unbeaten start alive against battle-tested Minnesota
Who: Minnesota vs. No. 5 Iowa
When: Saturday, 7 p.m. CT
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa
TV: Big Ten Network
Spread: Iowa -11.5
Matchup to watch: Desmond King vs. K.J. Maye
Quietly, Maye has emerged into one of the B1G’s best receivers. Not so quietly, King has emerged into one of the country’s best corners. The interception machine is going to have his work cut out for him against Minnesota’s top pass-catching weapon. The goal, as usual, will be to somehow get the ball to Maye in space. That won’t be easy against a lockdown corner like King. He figures to be the one in charge of shadowing him all night. In the last three weeks, Maye had a whopping 27 catches for 268 yards, 116 of which came against Ohio State’s No. 2-ranked pass defense last week. Mitch Leidner and Maye have developed the connection the Gophers lacked in the first part of the season, which means King will have to continue to make game-changing plays.
Thing I’m excited to see: Iowa’s full backfield…maybe?
We haven’t seen Iowa play a full game with all three of its top backs healthy this season. Saturday might be the first. Jordan Canzeri will likely be back — but limited — after suffering an ankle injury against Northwestern. That was the day Akrum Wadley burst onto the scene. Now he’s coming off an ankle injury against Indiana, but should play. Meanwhile, LeShun Daniels, who was hobbled in the first half of the season with an ankle injury, is coming off of his two best games and should get plenty of work on Saturday. Iowa is one of very few teams in college football with three running backs that have rushed for 100-plus yards in a game this season. That just shows you that if Canzeri or Wadley still don’t look to be at 100 percent, there’s still a guy plenty capable of taking over a game behind that offensive line. That’s a dangerous weapon to have in November.
Number to remember: 51-14
Ok, so that’s two numbers and a hyphen. That was the final score of last year’s Floyd of Rosedale game in Minneapolis. Minnesota tore up the Iowa on both sides of the ball and turned it into a blowout by halftime. The Gophers capitalized on short fields and made Maxx Williams some money. It’s hard to imagine Iowa allowing 51 points in two games, much less one. This time around, this game should have a different feel in Iowa City. Josey Jewell and Cole Fisher are too consistent to allow 51 points that to happen. It’s a bit ironic that C.J. Beathard and Akrum Wadley came into this game during garbage time last year. This year, they could be the two leaders behind an Iowa victory.
Prediction: Iowa 28, Minnesota 21
I don’t think anybody pushes this Minnesota team around. For as frustrating as the Gophers have been at times, they lost to Michigan, Ohio State and TCU by an average of one touchdown. That’s it. Eric Murray and Briean Boddy-Calhoun might make it a long day for Tevaun Smith and Matt VandeBerg. C.J. Beathard might not deliver his most memorable game. I even think we could see the Iowa defense look more vulnerable than usual against the pass. Still, I think Iowa follows the same blue print it has all year. The running game keeps the offense moving, Beathard converts in key situations — keep an eye on George Kittle — and the defense forces some key turnovers to put Minnesota away late. Like it or not, Iowa holds on to that top-five spot in typical Iowa fashion.