Look For Early Points in Minnesota-Iowa With Bronze Pig Floyd at Stake

iowa minnesota

Jay Pryce

Thursday, October 26, 2017 7:16 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017 7:16 PM GMT

The Floyd of Rosedale trophy is on the line when border rivals Iowa and Minnesota clash at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday (6:30 p.m. ET). The Hawkeyes are laying a touchdown in the matchup. Too much?

Free NCAAF Pick: Over 21 First-Half PointsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Minnesota Golden Gophers at Iowa Hawkeyes (-7)

The Hawkeyes are 11-1 SU and 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings in Iowa City. The lone Gophers win came in the only matchup they were favorites. In 1999, Minnesota kicked off a heavy 20-point chalk, yet barely eked out a 25-21 victory. Iowa won all but two other matchups by 12 points or more. Minnesota averages 14.8 points per game in this stretch.

Defense is the Hawkeyes' strength yet again in 2017 for 19-year head coach Kirk Ferentz. The strongest linebacker corps in the Big Ten leads the unit. The leader is Josey Jewell, expected back in action after missing last week’s Northwestern tilt to injury. The senior leads the conference with 11.7 tackles per game, ranking fourth nationally. Ben Niemann and Bo Bower join him. Together, they have 104 career starts.

The trio should force Minnesota into an uneasy offensive attack. The Gophers roll out a run-first offense calling 66.5 percent rushing plays, which ranks 12th nationally. Iowa stuffs the run for 4.2 yards per carry. Couple this with a Gophers O-line that has shuffled out a new 5-man set in each of the last five games, and it could be tough sledding offensively. Left tackle Donnell Green is the only Minnesota lineman to start all seven games.

Iowa has issues up front as well. Its O-line is book-ended by a pair of freshmen tackles, Alaric Jackson and Tristan Wirfs. The youthful front has had difficulty run blocking; the Hawkeyes’ 3.5 yards per carry against FBS foes ranks 107th in the country. Still, the passing attack, led by sophomore quarterback Nate Stanley, is just potent enough to give Ferentz the points he needs. The team’s 26.9 points per game headed into the weekend are seventh most during his tenure through Week 8.

Whether Stanley and the Iowa offense can move the chains through the air against the Gophers is questionable. Minnesota ranks 23rd in the NCAA with 183.1 passing yards per game allowed. Its 5.8 yards per opponent attempt is even more impressive (10th). What’s remarkable is that the secondary has seen 11 different starters suit up due to injuries, and seven of them are underclassmen.

Speaking of youth, this is where Iowa holds a decisive edge in the matchup: experience. Nearly half (49) of the Gophers’ 110 players are freshmen with 69 percent of the team comprised of sophomores or younger. This is just their second Big Ten road game this season after yielding late to Purdue 31-17 in Week 6. The Boilermakers marched down the field with ease in the final two minutes of regulation to score the go-ahead touchdown after a 4-play, 56-yard drive. Minnesota’s push to tie it ended in a walk-off pick six for Purdue. One has to worry the Gophers’ inexperience will bite them if asked to catch up or bury the veteran Hawkeyes late.

We’re expecting fireworks to kickoff the contest from at least one program. Since 2016, the Gophers have squared off against four other Big Ten defenses on the road allowing fewer then the current 23.7-point conference average entering a contest. They’ve put up 14 points twice and 17 two other times in the first half. In this same period, the Hawkeyes have kicked off home chalk vs. conference foes three times. They’ve put up 17, 20, and 21 points, respectively, and two of the opposing defenses allowed fewer than 20 points per game entering. One team will likely get bettors more than halfway to the first-half total on its own.

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