Week 5 – Minnesota at Iowa

Posted Sep 27, 2012

Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction – Minnesota at Iowa

Minnesota (4-0) at Iowa (2-2) Sept. 29, 12:00, ESPN2

Here's The Deal: There are two ways to look at Iowa. Either it's a hot mess with no offense, a defense that can't come through in the clutch, and overall it's one key play against Northern Illinois away from being 1-3 and winless against FBS teams. On the flip side, it could be argued that the Hawkeyes are two plays and four points away from being unbeaten. The embarrassment against Central Michigan and the tough loss to Iowa State won't matter anymore if the Hawkeyes can beat Minnesota and avenge the strange losses in the fight for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy over the last two seasons.

The Gophers showed last week against a high-powered Syracuse attack that they might be for real, keeping the Orange to just ten points in its strong win. But now the Big Ten slate starts – is this when reality hits? Is Jerry Kill really doing one of the best jobs in college football? If the Gophers win this week, they'll get two weeks off to bask in the glory of 5-0 before facing Northwestern.

Why Minnesota Might Win: Where is the Iowa passing game? There's nothing scaring anyone down the field and the ground game isn't softening up anyone but Northern Iowa to help make the air show take off. At this point, Minnesota is used to passers allowing just 228 yards to Ryan Nassib and a Syracuse passing game that went nuts on Northwestern and pushed USC. Western Michigan's Alex Carder was limited to just 209 yards with a score. If Iowa wasn't able to throw before, it's not likely to get everything working this week. The Minnesota secondary is playing way too well.

Why Iowa Might Win: It's time to get nasty. Western Michigan was able to run the ball on the Minnesota defensive front seven, and UNLV was able to move the ball a bit with its spread. Greg Garmon is expected to be back to add a little bit of depth to the Hawkeye running game, and with Damon Bullock still out, Mark Weisman and his 217 yards and three scores against Central Michigan should hammer on the Gopher line. Everyone has tried to finesse Minnesota. Now is the time to go smashmouth, partly because Iowa can't throw, and partly because the offensive line helped get Weisman into a lather last week.

What To Watch Out For: This was supposed to be time when MarQueis Gray grew into a special playmaking quarterback for the Gopher offense. He helped carry the team to a win over Iowa last year, but now it's Max Shortell's offense to run. As a true freshman Shortell completed 48% of his throws for 309 yards and two touchdowns with two picks. This year he has been far, far better throwing three touchdown passes against Western Michigan and completing 16-of-30 passes for 231 yards against Syracuse. With Gray still out with an ankle injury, Shortell is getting a chance to show what he can do.

What Will Happen: Can Minnesota really make it three in a row in the series? The defense is playing well enough to get it done, but Iowa will bounce back with James Vandenberg coming up with enough short to midrange passes to get by, while the Iowa ground game will be stunningly effective for long stretches. It will be a battle, but Iowa is getting back the pig trophy.

CFN Prediction: Iowa 20 … Minnesota 17
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Iowa -6.5 O/U: 46
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ryder Cup 2012, 1 – SNL Thursday Weekend Update): 3