Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Iowa at Minnesota: Physical Line Play likely on display in the Battle for Floyd of Rosedale

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- After facing variations of spread offenses during the first four weeks of 2013, the University of Iowa defense is ready for some good old-fashioned Big Ten Conference football.

The Hawkeyes hit the road for the second time this season, with another trophy game on the line.  The Hawkeyes won 27-21 over Iowa State in Ames to take back the Cy-Hawk Trophy. The Hawkeyes will try to do the same at Minnesota. Iowa overcame a two game losing streak vs. ISU. The Hawkeyes have lost two straight at TCF Bank Stadium vs. Minnesota.

"(Iowa and Minnesota) try to run the ball and pound it down each other's throat," said junior defensive tackle Carl Davis. "This is Big Ten play, that's what Big Ten teams do."

Iowa (3-1) plays at Minnesota (4-0) on Saturday at 2:36 p.m. (CT) at TCF Bank Stadium in a battle for Floyd of Rosedale. The game will be televised on ABC with a reverse mirror on ESPN2.

During its second-straight 4-0 start, the Golden Gophers have piled up 1,129 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground with four different players gaining more than 250 yards. Minnesota's rushing total ranks 13th nationally, averaging 282.3 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.

Iowa's defense gives up 91.5 yards per game and has yet to yield a rushing touchdown in 2013. The Hawkeyes have held each of its last three opponents under 75 yards on the ground.

"We feel like we're a physical front, especially in the front seven, and we can stop the run game," said Davis. "I am confident going against anybody that we can stop the run. We have a powerful unit and a good second unit that can come in and gives us a break."

Four different Minnesota players have tallied a 100-yard rushing game in 2013 -- running backs David Cobb and Rodrick Williams and quarterbacks Mitch Leidner and Philip Nelson.

Nelson started the first three games, piling up 221 yards on the ground. Leidner has 251 yards rushing in four games, which included a 151-yard, four touchdown performance filling in for an injured Nelson against San Jose State on Sept. 21.

"This is a different type of offense than we've seen the first couple of weeks," said senior safety Tanner Miller. "They are not the spread option-type team; they like to pound it between the tackles. We've shown we can have success stopping the run, and we're going to have to continue that this week."

Miller says the Hawkeyes need to play good sound football to combat the Gophers' quarterback rushing attack.

"It comes down to assignment football," said Miller. "That's where studying film comes in and being able to get those run-pass reads. They have seen that our second, third-level guys are aggressive against the run, so they'll probably try to exploit the pass. (Leidner) has both areas of his game that he can use effectively."

Leidner was 5-of-12 for 71 yards against San Jose State. He is 12-of-20 for 176 yards on the year.

With Floyd of Rosedale on the line, senior linebacker Christian Kirksey says the Hawkeyes need to be prepared for a hostile road environment.

"Their crowd is going to be in the game and our backs are going to be against the wall," said Kirksey. "We have to go up there and get the job done. We know what happened the previous two games (at Minnesota), we just have to have a different approach to the game."

Iowa won last season over Minnesota, 31-13, in Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes haven't won in two trips to TCF Bank Stadium, losing 27-24 in 2010 and 22-21 in 2011.

Iowa has ended two game losing streaks in back to back weeks with wins at Iowa State and vs. Western Michigan. Iowa goes for the trifecta at Minnesota.

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