Cassandra Buchholz, Sports Reporter

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.