The last time the University of Iowa headed to Minnesota, they returned home to Iowa City without Floyd of Rosedale last season, after losing to the Gophers 27-24. The Hawkeyes (5-2, 2-1 B1G Legends) face Minnesota (1-6, 0-3 B1G Legends) at 2:30 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. Iowa becomes bowl eligible for the 11Th straight year with a win on Saturday in Minneapolis. However, Minnesota is just looking for something to build on.
Iowa has plenty on the line heading into a Legends title race in November. Minnesota is looking for their first Big Ten win under new coach Jerry Kill. A match up between two Legends teams will be on the line at TCF Bank Stadium on Saturday.
The Iowa defense has given up the big play a more in 2011, than the typical defense under Iowa DC Norm Parker. Iowa is young in many spots in 2011, but if the Hawkeyes are going to continue to be in the hunt in November for the Legends division, the Hawkeyes need to step up on the road in Minneapolis. Iowa junior QB James Vandenberg is 0-3 in road starts in his career as a starter.
Iowa should get Floyd back for the winter, but this Iowa team hasn't won on the road yet, so this is far from a given. This is another rivalry game, with a trophy on the line. Currently, the Hawkeyes have zero trophy-game trophies in the trophy case. The Hawkeyes have three straight bowl trophies in the case, but those were other teams and Iowa needs to find some Mojo heading into November. A win on the road is the first step for the young Hawkeyes.
Our prediction is a little conservative here...
At QB, both teams are lead by first-year juniors, with Vandenberg for Iowa and MarQueis Gray for Minnesota. Vandenberg has some good skills throwing the football, with the ability to make the chains move with his feet. Gray is a nice athlete, who has played WR in his career and is a quality QB carrying the football. His passing game has work, but he is facing an Iowa defense, who has given up some big plays this season, with the majority by air.
Iowa redzone defense has been good in 2011, but overall both teams are giving up plenty of yards to their opponents. Who plays stronger on third down and gets off the field sooner will be a major key on Saturday?
On Saturday, the best defense may likely be a solid offense. Both teams will need to establish strong line play on offense and keep the ball. Special teams will be very important, as well. How balanced will both teams be on Saturday? Iowa is capable of some big plays on offense and Minnesota's defense has given up plenty of offense to opponents thus far in 2011.
For Iowa, senior DE Broderick Binns will have a homecoming of sorts, with a return to his hometown for Saturday's game. Iowa's DEs will have a do a good job of containment vs. Minnesota's QB Gray. Iowa's other DE is sophomore Dominic Alvis, who will be backed by senior Lebron Daniel. This is an area of the game to watch in Minneapolis.
Iowa has been banged up at linebacker, so it will be injury to see who will take the field. How physical will Iowa be vs. Minnesota. In last year's win, Minnesota played well physically on both sides of the ball. Under Kirk Ferentz, line play and playing physical, assignment football has been Iowa's bread and butter. Will Iowa bring it on the road on Saturday?
Two other Iowa colleges face big road tests on Saturday. The University of Northern Iowa, ranked #2 in FBS, travels to #3 North Dakota State for a huge Missouri Valley Football Conference game. The Bisons beat Minnesota in Week 4. UNI's lone loss came @ Iowa State to open the 2011 season. The game will kickoff at 3 p.m. on FCS (DirecTV channel 617). A win on the road would be huge for the Panthers on their title run in 2011.
Iowa State (3-4, 0-4 Big 12) travels to Texas Tech (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) on Saturday for a 6 p.m kickoff on Fox Sports Net. The Red Raiders pulled off the upset in Norman last week. The Cyclones are just looking for some positives, after struggling in Big 12 play, after winning three straight games by comeback in non-conference play.
Other Big Games:
Northwestern @ Indiana at 11 a.m. on Big Ten Network
Michigan State @ Nebraska at 11 a.m. on ESPN
Purdue @ Michigan at 11 a.m. on ESPN2
Missouri @ Texas A&M at 11 a.m. on Fx
UAB @ Marshall at 11 a.m. on Comcast
Florida vs. Georgia in Jacksonville at 2:30 p.m. on CBS
Oklahoma @ Kansas State at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN
Illinois @ Penn State at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN
Baylor @ Oklahoma State at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN2
Navy @ Notre Dame at 2:30 p.m. on NBC
Iowa @ Minnesota at 2:30 p.m. on Big Ten Network
South Carolina @ Tennessee at 6:15 p.m. on ESPN2
Iowa State @ Texas Tech at 6 p.m. on Fox Sports Net
Wisconsin @ Ohio State at 7 p.m. on ESPN
Stanford @ USC at 7 p.m. on ABC
Arizona @ Washington at 9:30 p.m. on Comcast