Saturday, November 8, 2014

Battle for Floyd: Iowa at Minnesota at 11 a.m. on ESPN2

Minneapolis - - The Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Golden Gophers are each 6-2, 3-1 in B1G West. The winner claims Floyd of Rosedale for the season, as well as a 4-1 division record and a tie for first place in the Division with Nebraska.

Neither Iowa nor Minnesota have won a B1G Division title over the first three years of B1G division play. This year's new division comes down to November for Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and Wisconsin as everyone squares of with each other.

Minnesota's last B1G title was 1967, with Indiana. Iowa's last B1G title was ten years ago with Michigan. After six straight losses in the trophy game with Michigan, the Golden Gophers claimed the Little Old Jug.

Iowa has lost a trophy game this season, with a 20-17 lost to Iowa State in the Cy-Hawk Trophy Game. Iowa comes into TFL Bank Stadium off an impressive win at home over Northwestern to open November.

Minnesota lost at Illinois to close out October on a low note. The Godlen Gophers enjoyed a bye week to get healthy for the Battle of Floyd of Rosedale. Minnesota still has three players dinged, with sophomore WR Drew Wolitarsky clearly out. Sophomore OL Ben Lauer and junior Alex Keith are nursing injuries too.

Iowa is beginning to get players back at practice as the full week of November began, head coach Kirk Ferentz reported this week. The Dean of Big Ten coaches (16 years) won his first Minnesota game in 2001. It was Ferentz's first bowl team at Iowa. He is. 10-3 vs. Minnesota, since 2001.

Head coach Jerry Kill is in his fourth season at Minnesota. He is 1-2 vs. Iowa.

2011 - Minnesota 22, Iowa 21 in Minneapolis
2012 - Iowa 31, Minnesota 13 in Iowa City
2013 - Iowa 23, Minnesota 7, in Minneapolis

Iowa's offensive and defensive coordinators are 2-0 vs. Minnesota in those position roles. Iowa has two losses this season, so which team will arrive in Minneapolis and what does Kirk Ferentz, OC Greg Davis and DC Phil Parker have in store for Iowa? Can the Hawkeyes make it three in role?

Some things to watch in the Battle for Floyd of Rosedale:

1. Minnesota sophomore QB Mitch Leidner and sophomore TE Maxx Williams on play action. Minnesota is a running team, with play action the main passing avenue. Iowa must slow senior RB David Cobb.

2. Explosive plays - Iowa OC Greg Davis preaches winning explosives and turnover battles. What gives today in those areas and special teams?

3. The battle of the line of scrimmage will be a huge key for both phases of the game. Iowa has shut out Minnesota the past two seasons in the first half. In Minnesota's most recent loss, they Illini got out to a 14 point lead. Turnovers were a big problem for the Golden Gophers in the loss. Illinois won on a fumble return for a touchdown.

4. Leadership will be critical. Maryland leaned on senior leadership in their Homecoming win over Iowa. Who brings it better from a leadership standpoint: Iowa or Minnesota?

5. Iowa junior Jake Rudock and the Iowa passing offense lead the Big Ten heading into the second half of conference race. How will weather conditions impact the passing and special teams today?

6. Iowa senior RB Mark Weisman has become a good TD producer in the red zone lately. Who takes care of business in the red zone. Iowa's offensive line has only produced one 100 yard back this season, with redshirt Akrum Wadley going over the century mark in his debut as a backup RB.

7. Iowa needs the TEs and WRs to click at Minnesota. The Northwestern game was good for the wide receivers, after a tough loss at Maryland to close October. Does junior WR Tevaun Smith get early targets to get on track in the Iowa air game?

Iowa has been averaging 27 lately in last two wins. Does the defense hold the Golden Gophers to 10 points? Minnesota is 2-1 at TCF Bank Stadium against Iowa, with close wins in 2010 and 2011. Iowa has played 4 of last 5 in this series in Minneapolis.

Today's Pick:

Iowa - 27
Minnesota -10

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