One of college football's most competitive rivalries writes its next chapter Friday night in Minneapolis
The Iowa Hawkeyes and Minnesota Golden Gophers first played each other in 1891 and have been battling for the Floyd of Rosedale — one of college fooball's most iconic rivalry trophies — since 1935. Minnesota leads the all-time series, 62-49-2, but the results when playing for the bronze, pig-shaped trophy are much closer. The Gophers lead that category by the slimmest of margins, 42-41-2, making it one of the most competitive rivalries anywhere in American sports.
The next chapter of the rivalry will be written Friday night in Minneapolis with Minnesota looking to break a five-game losing streak to Iowa.
Both teams began the modified 2020 season a disappointing 0-2. Last week, however, both notched that all-important first win of the season and will now look to keep the positive momentum going in what appears to be an elimination game in the Big Ten West.
Iowa at Minnesota
Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Iowa -3.5
When Iowa Has the Ball
The Hawkeyes have traditionally been a team that likes to pound the ball on the ground and dominate games in the trenches under Kirk Ferentz. This season, however, Iowa has the talent at quarterback and receiver to put together a dangerous passing attack. We saw that on display during Iowa's first two games, as quarterback Spencer Petras piled up a total of 89 pass attempts. Sure, Iowa lost both games, but the Hawkeyes were in a position to win both. They resorted to a more run-heavy attack in last week's win over Michigan State, with Petras throwing the ball just 29 times and the Iowa backs piling up 226 yards on 41 carries.
On Friday against Minnesota, look for Iowa to come out and set the tone with the run game before challenging a Minnesota secondary that has been exploited at times through the air. In the end, Ferentz is one of the few coaches in the country who isn't afraid to stick with what's working, even if it means winning ugly. If the running game is getting it done, we could see another day where Petras throws fewer than 30 passes.
When Minnesota Has the Ball
The Golden Gophers' offense is centered around running back Mohamed Ibrahim. In three games, Ibrahim has already piled up 571 yards on 97 carries (almost six yards per) and 10 rushing touchdowns. His 190.3 rushing yards per game are the most in FBS, and in the Big Ten, he's more than 200 total yards clear of the next guy on the list (Maryland's Jake Funk). If Ibrahim is effective early against Iowa, we could be in for one of the shortest games of the season.
Both teams are going to be content to stick with the run if it's working, but you get the sense that Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan is going to need to force the ball down the field a couple of times in order to make the plays that essentially decide this game. When he does, he'll have Rashod Bateman — one of the most talented wide receivers in the nation — as one of his targets. If Ibrahim and Bateman both have a big night, the Gophers are likely going to be victorious.
Minnesota has shown some inconsistency on both sides of the ball this season. The Gophers have been exposed on defense, both on the ground and through the air. Offensively, Mohamed Ibrahim's big numbers — though impressive — also are the result of a passing game that has struggled to be as effective as many thought it would be.
On the other hand, we could argue that Iowa could very well be 3-0 at this point, and the early mistakes that plagued the Hawkeyes appear to be behind them. We saw a dominant performance last weekend in a win over Michigan State where Iowa looked like the team many were picking to win the Big Ten West. Historically, Kirk Ferentz's teams have started slow and still put together successful campaigns. We're probably in for an old-school, Big Ten slugfest on Friday night. If that's the case, I like Ferentz's odds and his history in those types of games.
Prediction: Iowa 27, Minnesota 20
Podcast: Week 11 Preview and Predictions
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, SBNation, USA Today and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.