Minnesota vs. Iowa NCAA Picks and College Football Betting Odds
Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Iowa Hawkeyes, Saturday November 16, 4 p.m. ET
This is the second week in a row that I have previewed a Minnesota game. I am also pretty sure that it is the second time in the dozen or so years that I have been doing this that I have previewed a Minnesota game. The Golden Gophers earned it, though, after their stunning win over Penn State last week - a Nittany Lions team that was in a playoff spot at the start of the game, no less. Now they sit at 9-0, they control their own destiny in the Big Ten West, and they surely believe that anything is possible.
Things don't get much easier down the stretch for them, though. They now play at a Top 20 Iowa team , then visit Northwestern before hosting Wisconsin in the finale. Head coach P.J. Fleck has earned a huge raise already in recognition of the job he has done - and to keep him away from the high-profile programs like USC and Florida State looking for a new head man. He really has a chance to earn that raise in a big way down the stretch. Winning the division alone would be far more than anyone could have possibly expected. But to get there without a loss would be a whole other thing. And, at this point, are we really going to doubt this team? There is some magic going on under those maroon and gold helmets right now.
Minnesota at Iowa Betting Storylines
The obvious concern here for the Gophers is the risk of a letdown. It would be tough to argue that the team has played a bigger game than last week's in the history of the program. Certainly, the list of games that could challenge it is extremely short - and none have been played in the lifetimes of any of the players. To legitimately beat a Top 4 team at home is impressive. If the team treats it as their own Super Bowl, and spends this week reading the headlines instead of practicing to get better, the euphoria of that success could be very short lasting. The team has very little experience with dealing with the kind of pressure they dealt with going into that game and the amplified pressure now that people are paying attention. And while Fleck had his unbeaten regular season at Western Michigan, he's in very unfamiliar air here, too. The only experience he has that is really comparable to this is back when he was a grad assistant at Ohio State under Jim Tressel is 2006, working with tight ends and the special teams for a squad that lost the national title game to Florida. That was a long time ago, though, and being a GA is slightly different than being a head coach. Iowa faces less pressure in this game, and they have much more experience dealing with it - an advantage of having the same head coach for decades.
While the pressure is a concern for Minnesota, their QB play certainly isn't. Sophomore QB Tanner Morgan has been strong all year, and that was taken to a whole new level last time out against Penn State. He completed a ridiculous 18 of 20 passes for 339 yards and three touchdowns. It was truly freakish, and a guy can't help but gain confidence from that. Morgan faces a strong defense, but he did so last week - Penn State ranks fifth nationally in points allowed even after Minnesota scored 31, and Iowa ranks fourth. But the Hawkeyes are much stingier against the pass than Penn State, and that's a concern. The pressure will be a little less on Morgan than it could be, though, because it's not like the Hawkeyes have a particularly scary offense themselves - they rank 98th in points scored and will have to contend with a Minnesota defense that ranks 15th in points allowed. This one isn't likely to turn into a shootout, so Minnesota won't be forced to scramble against this tough defense.
Minnesota at Iowa Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened with Iowa favored by three points at home, and that number has remained stable through the first five days of betting. That is pretty close to the home-field advantage in a spot like this, so oddsmakers clearly see this as a tough, tight game. The Gophers have drawn nearly 70 percent of bets to this point, so the lack of line movement suggests that sharp money is likely slightly tilted to Iowa. The total opened at 44.5 and has also been stable there.
The Gophers have covered the spread in their last seven conference games and last six overall. They are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five road games. Iowa lost to Wisconsin last week but covered the spread. The team is 1-4 ATS in their last five following both a straight up loss and an ATS win. The road team is 3-0-1 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams.
Minnesota at Iowa Predictions and Picks
It can't come as a surprise given that I barely mentioned the home team here, but the road team is my bet. They are a dialed in team that has captured magic, and they are united and believing in what their coaches say. It's a strong formula. Iowa is good at a lot of things, but they aren't a terrifying team. Wisconsin found the formula, and Minnesota is capable of doing it, too. Minnesota is the pick, and I'd jump on it now to avoid having the number drop to 2.5.
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