The Gophers are aiming to finish the seven-game skid against Iowa on a cold Saturday

Hello from a cold Huntington Bank Stadium, where the Gophers face Iowa (3 p.m., FOX, 100.3-FM) in a battle for Floyd of Rosedale and for positioning in the Big Ten West Division race. Weather will certainly play a role today with a temperature of 17 degrees at 12:30pm and winds from the west/northwest at 18mph. The coldest Gophers game at the stadium was against Ohio State in 2014 when the kick-off temperature was 15.

The Gophers (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) will look to end Iowa’s seven-year hold on the bronze pig statue and will look to give coach PJ Fleck his first win over the Hawkeyes (6-4, 4-3). . Minnesota came close last year, beating the Hawkeyes 409-277 and holding the ball for 40 minutes and 2 seconds, but a couple of big plays for touchdowns allowed Iowa to win 27-22.

Early in Saturday’s games, the West saw a four-way tie between the Gophers, Iowa, Illinois and Purdue. For the Gophers to win the West straight and reach Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship Game, their best bet would be to beat Iowa and Wisconsin and let Illinois and Purdue lose a game each. Illinois played at No. 3 Michigan on Saturday, closing out the regular season against Northwestern. Purdue faced Northwestern on Saturday and closes against Indiana.

With the cold temperatures and wind, expect even more of a ground game from both teams. Mohamed Ibrahim has averaged 34.7 carries in his last three games and surpassed 100 rushing yards in consecutive games. He ranks fifth nationally with 1,261 rushing yards and leads the nation with 18 rushing touchdowns. Iowa counters with a defense that allows for 88.6 rushing yards per game, which ranks eighth nationally.

Iowa linebacker Jack Campbell leads the Big Ten with 100 tackles, and while defenseman Cooper DeJean has four interceptions, he ranks second in the conference. Joe Evans and Luke Van Ness each have six sacks for the Hawkeyes and Deontae Craig has 5.5.

Other storylines to watch:

* The Gophers quarterback situation: Redshirt rookie Athan Kaliakmanis started last week’s 31-3 win over Northwestern, completing 7 of 13 passes for 64 yards. Tanner Morgan was out with an upper-body injury sustained late in the first half in Nebraska. That came three weeks after Morgan suffered a concussion in Illinois.

* The Pedal Game: With wind being a factor, special teams become more important. Iowa kicker Drew Stevens is 13-to-15 in field goals, while the Gophers’ Matthew Trickett is 11-to-12. Hawkeye’s punter Tory Taylor is averaging 45.52 yards with his 64 punts, while Minnesota’s Mark Crawford is averaging 40.12 yards.

* Fast Starts: In their seven-game winning streak against the Gophers, the Hawkeyes have opened the scoring in every game, beating Minnesota 51-13 in the first quarter.

Check back later for updates.

Source