Minnesota Golden Gophers (4-5 SU, 4-5 ATS) vs. No. 9 Iowa Hawkeyes (9-0 SU, 6-3 ATS)
College Football Week 11
Date/Time: Saturday, November 14, 2015, 8:00 pm EST
Where: Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, Iowa
TV: Big Ten Network, DirecTV 610
by Badger, NCAA Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: MIN +12/IOWA -12
Over/Under Total: 45.5
The undefeated and 9th-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes are so close to a Big Ten Conference West division title they can taste it, but if they dont stay focused and take care of business when the rival Minnesota Golden Gophers come calling to Kinnick Stadium this Saturday, that sweet taste could turn sour quickly.
The Hawkeyes kept the dream alive with a solid but not dominating victory on the road last week beating the Indiana Hoosiers, 35-27. Iowa held an 18-point lead for most of the fourth quarter in the win, setting the stage for their chance at redemption against the Gophers this week after the Gophers ran up 51 points on the Hawkeyes in last years rivalry game for the bronze pig known as Floyd of Rosedale.
Minnesota will be a big underdog on the road in another game this week in Big 10 action, since the Gophers covered the 23.5-point spread but failed to spring the ultimate upset on the road in Columbus, losing to the Buckeyes, 28-14. The Gophers have now lost three in a row in Big Ten play, and four out of their five conference games as they scramble to try and become bowl eligible in the final three weeks of the season still needing two more wins.
Iowa opened the game favored by 11.5 points, but after a couple of days of sportsbooks taking action on it, the number has moved all over the board now. You can still find the original -11.5 point spread, but most books are already up to -12 and there are even a few books listing -12.5 as the number as the early steam has moved it up in favor of the Hawkeyes. The over/under total opened at 46 at a few sportsbooks, but it has dropped the hook to 45.5 at most books that are listing a total for this game this early in the week (its still off the board at most sportsbooks).
Minnesotas offense has struggled this season, with the main reason being the fact that they havent really found a replacement for last years star running back David Cobb. Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks have share the role, but neither has really emerged and as a result the Gophers have relied on the passing game and returning QB Mitch Leidner this year to mixed results (10 TD, 8 INT). Considering the Hawkeyes currently boast a defense ranked 12th in the country in yards allowed (301 ypg), 9th against the run (101.4 ypg) and 8th in points allowed (16.6 ppg), Leidner will likely have to put together a big game throwing the ball for the Gophers to even stay in it.
The strength of the Iowa team is their defense, because their offense isnt really flashy or full of game-breakers. Running back Akrum Wadley (6.6 ypc, 7 TD) has done a great job filling in for Jordan Canzeri while he was out nursing an ankle injury, but with Canzeri listed as probable to return this Saturday Im expecting even larger doses of power running (ave. 205 ypg 33rd in FBS) behind the prototypical dominating Iowa offensive line. The Gophers strength on defense is their secondary, which will likely need to make a lot of tackles on Saturday if and when Canzeri and Wadley get to the second level and in the open field.
As previously mentioned, the Gophers busted up on the Hawkeyes last year, 51-14. Leidner enjoyed one of his best days as a collegiate QB throwing for four touchdowns in the air and adding a team-high 77 yards rushing, but it was the Gophers 291 yards rushing on 59 carries and an overwhelming time of possession advantage (Minn. 37 minutes; Iowa 23 minutes) that carried them to an easy victory. In the ultimate case of irony, thats most likely the same exact recipe the Hawkeyes will try and use against the Gophers on Saturday as the tables have turned in the 2015 season.
Iowa last hosted the Gophers back in 2012 in what eventually turned into a, 31-13, victory at Kinnick. In fact, Iowa hasnt lost to Minnesota at Kinnick Stadium since the 1999 season, and they have gone 10-1 SU at home in the series dating back to 1989. That is significant only because out of all of the possible betting trends for this game, most of them are a wash except for the fact that the home team is 4-1 ATS in the last five head-to-head, and the fact Iowa is 5-2 ATS in the last seven games played inside Kinnick.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: For me this game comes down to schedules. Sure Iowa is undefeated, but their signature wins have come on the road at Wisconsin and at Northwestern and maybe Pittsburgh at home if youre throwing them a bone. Minnesota has already played Michigan, Northwestern, Nebraska, Ohio State and TCU in the non-conference schedule. Minnesota is battle tested, so I have a hard time believing they will get blown out by more than two scores. Im taking Minnesota and the points with the hopes the number climbs higher during the week.
Bet on games LIVE-IN-PROGRESS at a bookie where credit cards work for deposits and where you will get a FAT 50% bonus up to $1000 FREE! –> MyBookie!
Additional College Football Betting Previews