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5 Things: Iowa vs Minnesota

Hawkeyes head to TCF Bank Stadium face Gophers for the Floyd of Rosedale

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Iowa’s 42-3 drubbing of Iowa State feels like a whole different season. Just a few weeks removed from the CyHawk euphoria, the Hawkeyes’ performance has turned into something that more closely resembles a hangover. Iowa (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) heads on the road to face a Minnesota (3-1, 0-1) team that might not be hungover, but whose overtime loss to Penn State got ugly.

Both teams had games they’d like to forget last week, and more than a few things to change. With that, here are 5 Things on Iowa vs Minnesota.

1. Anything you can mad, I can mad madder

“Ultimately we didn’t play well enough, we didn’t coach well enough, and Northwestern did a better job today.”

That was in Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz’s opening statement after the Hawkeyes’ 38-31 loss to the Wildcats.

“I’ve never felt good at halftime. It’s a matter of you have to keep playing This is a tough conference; 10 points is nothing. You have to play hard for four quarters.”

That was Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys, when asked about halftime adjustments (hold that thought) in the Gophers’ 29-26 overtime loss to Penn State.

“That’s not good.”

That was Ferentz, when asked about the Hawkeyes’ 41 carries for 79 yards rushing on Saturday.

“I don’t know. I don’t have a psychology degree.”

That was Claeys, when asked how an ugly hit (hold this thought, too) affected the mentality of his team during the second half Saturday.

Both coaches had awkward, hard-to-get-through post-game media availabilities. That tends to happen when teams take losses that were avoidable to teams they had a real chance to beat. At least one will have a little more fun after the game on Saturday.

2. Smoke on the Waters

Iowa punter Ron Coluzzi has joked a few times about his getting run over on punt coverage while he was at Central Michigan, in a game against Purdue. One of the times he talked about that oft-YouTubed play was in reference to 5-foot-10, 260-pound Penn State kicker Joey Julius, who has delivered a few hits on kick coverage.

Well, Julius has also been the target (right or wrong) of some opposing special teamers, who might not like getting shown up by a kicker. Something along those lines happened in Minnesota-Penn State, and the benches cleared because of it.

Jaylen Waters, a Gophers linebacker, tussled with Julius on a kickoff following Julius’ hit on Minnesota returner Jalen Myrick, with Julius ending up on the ground. On the next kickoff, a touchback, Waters leveled Julius with a high hit, seemingly nowhere near the play.

The benches cleared and Waters was ejected. Claeys and Penn State Coach James Franklin had a discussion on the field, and Franklin seemed to accept what was said. Either way, it put an ugly mark on the game.

“I care about protecting the game and I don’t believe in that crap,” Claeys said of the hit. “Anybody who thinks that we coached that does not know us. This is a great game. It has helped a hell of a lot of people and you’re also dealing with kids who are doing things. There are consequences for those decisions.”

3. Third quarter things

Minnesota started the season 3-0, and while only the win against FCS team Indiana State was convincing (58-28), the Gophers had put together three games worth of consistent enough football to get it done.

But now, after the Penn State loss, a trend has developed out of halftime for the men in maroon and gold. The Nittany Lions, who trailed at home to the Gophers, 13-3, scored 17 unanswered points to take a 20-13 lead.

Whatever the root cause – failure to make enough or the right changes at halftime; being outcoached or out-executed – Minnesota has now been outscored 50-17 in third quarters this season. That may fly when the opponent is Indiana State or Colorado State, but not in the Big Ten. Iowa hasn’t come out of the gate in third quarters like gangbusters this season – 31 points in five third quarters total – but it’s still an area to exploit.

“The bottom line is we picked out all these different plays (throughout) the game and in the third quarter we weren’t very good,” Claeys said. “That’s where we lost the football game.”

4. On the road again

Iowa heads to TCF Bank Stadium as a 2-point favorite for Saturday’s Battle for Floyd of Rosedale. Some were surprised at the line, but it’s there, and it’s the second straight road game the Hawkeyes have been favored.

In the five seasons coming into 2016, Iowa went on the road as a favorite 13 times. The Hawkeyes went 10-3 against the spread and went 10-3 outright in those games – each failed cover being an outright loss.

The connection to Saturday in that regard is two of those losses as road favorites came at Minnesota – the 51-14 drubbing in 2014 as a 1.5-point favorite and the 22-21 loss in 2011 as a 14.5-point favorite. The other loss was to Iowa State in 2011.

5. Let's go bowling, maybe?

This weekend marks the halfway point of the college football season for many teams, including the Hawkeyes, and like during college basketball season, postseason projections are in full swing.

Iowa’s loss to Northwestern took the Hawkeyes from a team that was seemingly assured its fourth straight bowl berth. Minnesota is vying for its fifth straight bowl. Despite a rough few weeks for Iowa and last week’s loss for Minnesota, both still appear to be in good shape to extend their bowl streaks. Both have to play Wisconsin, but neither have to play Ohio State or Michigan State. Minnesota gets to avoid Michigan, too, while Iowa has a home date with the Wolverines on Nov. 12.

So let’s take a look at bowl projections from a few different places for the Hawkeyes and Gophers, as both go for a fourth win on Saturday:

CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm – Iowa: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Western Kentucky; Minnesota: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Pitt

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach – Iowa: Pinstripe Bowl vs. Notre Dame; Minnesota: Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl vs. Georgia

SI.com – Iowa: Citrus Bowl vs. Georgia; Minnesota: Music City Bowl vs. Florida.

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com

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