MINN vs. Iowa Preview
Iowa City, IA - First, Iowa's national title hopes disappeared. Next, a potential Rose Bowl spot went out the window.
A third consecutive loss to end the regular season might feel just as devastating.
The 15th-ranked Hawkeyes look to pick up the pieces, not to mention avoid dwelling on what might have been, as they host Minnesota on Saturday.
Oddsmakers from online sports book SPORTSBETTING.com have made Iowa –9.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for Saturday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 70% of bets for this game have been placed on Iowa –9.5 (View College Football bet percentages).
Iowa (9-2, 5-2 Big Ten) entered this month fourth in the BCS standings, having won its first nine games for the first time in school history. The Hawkeyes continued to have their doubters because only one victory was against a ranked opponent and four were by three points or less.
The skeptics were proven right Nov. 7 when the Hawkeyes were knocked out of the BCS national title picture with a shocking 17-10 home loss to Northwestern. Last Saturday, their effort was considered to be a much better one but the result was the same, falling 27-24 in overtime at then-No. 10 Ohio State.
While the Buckeyes grabbed the Big Ten's bid to the Rose Bowl, the Hawkeyes' fate changed so much in just two weeks. Now they must win to have any shot of making a BCS bowl or to claim a share of the conference title - Ohio State would have to lose at Michigan for the latter to happen.
"This is a big game," offensive lineman Bryan Bulaga said. "We're at two losses right now, but there's still an opportunity to get to a good bowl game if we win this game. There's a lot riding on this."
A loss would prevent the Hawkeyes from posting the fourth 10-win regular season in school history and first since 2002, and there's a chance it could drop them out of the AP Top 25 for the first time since September.
"We have an awful lot left to play for," coach Kirk Ferentz told the school's official Web site. "We would like to finish up on a positive note."
The losses coincide with the injury to starting quarterback Ricky Stanzi, who hurt his ankle in the first half against Northwestern. James Vandenberg came off the bench to go 9 of 27 for 82 yards with no touchdowns and an interception, then he was picked off three times last Saturday in his first career start.
The redshirt freshman also took a third-down sack that knocked Iowa out of field-goal range in overtime, but Vandenberg did help Iowa rally from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter and finished 20 of 33 for 233 yards with a touchdown.
"James played with great, great poise," Ferentz said. "He showed great mental toughness and hung in there and kept competing. It was a great, great effort."
Vandenberg will start again Saturday, though Stanzi may return for Iowa's bowl game.
Stanzi threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns as the Hawkeyes won 55-0 at Minnesota last season for their seventh victory in the last eight meetings. The Gophers have lost four in a row at Iowa City since a 25-21 win in 1999.
Minnesota (6-5, 3-4) is looking to halt a 13-game skid against ranked opponents that dates to a win at Michigan on Oct. 8, 2005. Three of those defeats have come this season by a combined 93-28 score.
Another blowout could be in store considering the Gophers struggled to beat a Football Championship Subdivision opponent last Saturday, needing Eric Ellestad's 25-yard field goal with 2:22 remaining to defeat South Dakota State 16-13.
"Am I pleased about how the game was played? Certainly I'm not," coach Tim Brewster said after his team was held to 231 yards of offense.
Minnesota has yet to hold a Big Ten foe under 20 points and has lost three of its last four conference games.
The only win in that span saw Adam Weber throw for 416 yards and five touchdowns against Michigan State. In his other five outings over the past six weeks, Weber has thrown for 602 yards with one TD and seven interceptions.
Posted: 11/17/09 6:30PM ET