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Editor’s note: This is 11th in a 12-part series previewing Iowa football’s 2022 opponents.
Minnesota had a few extra football fans for its 2021 home finale from its rival to the south.
The Iowa Hawkeyes, 7-2 in Big Ten play, needed Minnesota to beat Wisconsin to earn a spot in the Big Ten title game, and the Gophers delivered.
Iowa cornerback Riley Moss even tweeted, “I f------ love” Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck.
The scenario Iowa football players would presumably “love” at Minnesota’s 2022 home finale is just the opposite — seeing Fleck lose, this time to the Hawkeyes on Nov. 19.
The Floyd of Rosedale Trophy has stayed in Iowa City for quite a while. Minnesota’s last win in the series happened in 2014.
The bronze pig might not be the only prize at stake in the 2022 renewal of the rivalry, though.
Minnesota doesn’t play Iowa and Wisconsin — likely the top two teams in the Big Ten West — until the final two weeks of the season, so it’s feasible for the Gophers to be in contention for a Big Ten West title on Nov. 19.
That means the Iowa-Minnesota game could potentially be an elimination game for whichever team loses.
Iowa vs. Minnesota: 3 things to watch
- Minnesota’s offensive line vs. Iowa’s defensive line. The Gophers had possession for 40 minutes of last year’s battle for Floyd of Rosedale, partly because of their success on the ground. Through the first three quarters, Minnesota had 204 rushing yards. The Gophers should have a talented running backs room again, led by Mohamed Ibrahim. But Minnesota’s offensive line lost some experience. Plus, Iowa’s defensive line has almost everyone back.
- How effective is Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan against Iowa’s secondary? The more accurate Morgan was in 2021, the better the Gophers were. When he completed at least 60 percent of his passes, Minnesota was 7-0. When he was below 60 percent, his team was 2-4. Morgan has the benefit of the return of top wide receiver Chris Autman-Bell.
- How much of a jump does Minnesota’s secondary take in 2022? The Gophers’ eight interceptions in 2021 didn’t exactly jump off the page. But the players responsible for seven of those eight picks are returning in 2022. National sportswriter Phil Steele ranked the Gophers’ secondary as tied for third-best in the Big Ten with Ohio State and Michigan.
This year’s battle for the pig could be another nail-biter. Iowa cannot afford to let Minnesota control possession for 40 minutes again.