Point/Counterpoint: Should Iowa be favored over Minnesota this weekend?
No. 23 Iowa is the three-point favorite over No. 7 Minnesota this weekend, and it has Daily Iowan sports reporters wondering why.
November 11, 2019
Did Vegas not watch these two teams play this weekend?
Minnesota dominated the previously unbeaten Nittany Lions at home, while the Hawkeyes continued to uninspire in Saturday’s road loss to Wisconsin. In Saturday’s victory over Penn State, the Golden Gophers controlled the game from start to finish with a score line that made the game look much closer than how it actually was.
Quarterback Tanner Morgan will cause problems for Iowa, with the sophomore becoming more efficient every week. Saturday’s game was his best yet, going 18-20 for 330 yards and three touchdowns. Although Iowa’s secondary has improved over the course of the season, it has not faced as efficient of a quarterback since Iowa State’s Brock Purdy in Week 3. Iowa should be able to limit what Minnesota does on the ground, so Morgan will have to be the X-factor for the Golden Gophers once again this week.
Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley, who has looked indifferent for large amounts of the season, has proven that he does not have the clutch gene, and Iowa is going to need to find answers elsewhere.
The two teams both like to control time of possession, but Minnesota has done it much more effectively by capitalizing on scoring when it matters most.
Ultimately, both these teams have found themselves in tight games throughout the season, but Minnesota has been able to find a way to win even in the most unlikely of circumstances. Even though this game is at Kinnick, the Hawkeyes should not be trusted as the favorite due to their inability to win close games.
Yes, the Hawkeyes will win on Saturday. For starters, look at Minnesota’s schedule. It is an undefeated team that has played a relatively easy schedule: the three non-conference games were against a Sun Belt team, FCS Missouri Valley team, and Mountain West Fresno State – which the Gophers barely won in double overtime.
In the Big Ten, Minnesota started off with the bottom four teams (Rutgers, Maryland, Nebraska, and Purdue) on the schedule and have 1-8 Northwestern coming next week. Had Ohio State and Michigan been on the list this year, there would be a different storyline.
As for the Penn State-Minnesota game played last week, giving the Nittany Lions their first loss of the season: Penn State was just off their game. The secondary allowed Minnesota’s Tanner Morgan to complete 18-for-20 passes and Penn State’s Sean Clifford played through cramps in his right calf.
Iowa is favored to win by three points. The Hawkeyes take the home-field advantage, and the Gophers haven’t won in Kinnick since 1999 when they were ranked No. 17 in the AP poll. Iowa has won 14 out of the last 18 meetings with Minnesota, and both teams haven’t played each other ranked since 2003, where No. 20 Iowa defeated No. 19 Minnesota, 40-22.
Iowa’s defense is what will hold this game together. AJ Epenesa leads the defense that ranks in the top 20 in rushing, passing, scoring, and total defense. The Hawkeyes are fourth in the country in scoring defense (11.7 points allowed per game). While not fully dominant in past quarterbacks, Nate Stanley is still ranked second in the Big Ten in passing yards (2,158) and passing yards per game (239.8). Stanley is also second in school history in passing touchdowns (64).
As for the Penn State-Iowa game played on Oct. 12 in comparison with the Gophers, the loss was within one possession with Iowa holding the lead in the first quarter. All of the Hawkeyes’ losses this season have come from ranked teams with a combined record of 22-5 and have been within one possession.
It would take a few miracles the rest of the season for Iowa to win the Big Ten West, but the Hawkeyes taking the Floyd of Rosedale over Minnesota on Saturday would take a blunder to the Gophers chances of the Big Ten West Title and potentially would potentially give it to No. 17 Wisconsin.