The Battle for Floyd of Rosedale on Saturday might be a race to 17 points.
The Gophers and Hawkeyes have two of the best defenses in the nation … and two underwhelming offenses. That’s why aggregator Vegas Insider has pegged the over/under for total points to be scored at 32 1/2. Minnesota is a 2 1/2-point favorite over Iowa for the 3 p.m. kickoff at Huntington Bank Stadium.
“Two teams that, I think, have gotten better as the season has gone on,” head coach P.J. Fleck said Monday. “The defensive part of that, I’m sure, will be on display somehow some way, but it’s a whole team game.”
The Hawkeyes offense is ranked 130th out of 131 FBS programs in total offense at 251 yards per game. Minnesota’s total offense is a respectable 57th at 403 yards per game, primarily due to U’s running game led by All-America tailback candidate Mo Ibrahim. But Minnesota’s passing offense drags down the overall unit and is ranked 118th in the county.
Given Iowa’s scoring offense (17.9 points per game) this season, the Hawkeyes have had a few games this season with over/under totals that have challenged the known low, including matchups against Northwestern and Rutgers.
Betting numbers can vary based on timing and which sports book are referenced, so it’s hard to track an exact historical low, but according to an Action Network article on Oct. 24, the lowest tracked over/under point total closed at 33 for Arizona vs. Oregon State in 1995. Arizona won 14-9.
We’ll see how much the Gophers-Hawkeyes game’s over/under of 32 1/2 points moves before Saturday.
Veteran quarterback Tanner Morgan remains under the supervision of the Gophers medical staff and is considered day-to-day going into Saturday’s game, Fleck said Monday.
Morgan was knocked out of the 20-13 win over Nebraska on Nov. 5 with an “upper-body injury,” and he did not play in the 31-3 win over Northwestern on Saturday.
Athan Kaliakmanis started his first home game against Northwestern, completing 7 of 13 passes for 64 yards. The redshirt freshman added four rushes for 28 yards.
Who the Gophers’ starting quarterback will be for the Iowa game might remain an unanswered question up until kickoff Saturday.
The Gophers’ Senior Day on Saturday will include a now-repeated disclaimer: If a player participates in the pregame festivities (introduced in the stadium, hugging Fleck and family), it doesn’t necessarily mean his career at Minnesota will end after this season.
Some players have exhausted eligibility, including sixth-year stalwarts Morgan, Ibrahim and center John Michael Schmitz. But with the pandemic year in 2020 not counting as one of the four regular years of eligibility, handfuls of players could still come back for 2023.
Two primary players who might participate on Senior Day and go on to pursue the NFL are safety Tyler Nubin and tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford. Or those standouts and others could return for a final year at the U in 2023.
Some of these decisions won’t be made or known until after the season.
The Gophers are expected to request a waiver for a medical redshirt on Chris Autman-Bell. The sixth-year senior receiver suffered a season-ending injury in September and appears in line to receive clearance for a seventh season in 2023.
Fleck opened his Monday news conference by sending his “deepest condolences” to the University of Virginia community and its football program over the fatal shootings in Charlottesville, Va., on Sunday. The suspected shooter and three of the victims have been members of the Cavaliers’ football team. … Fleck sat in his office with Rashod Bateman for more than an hour last week after Bateman’s second season with the Baltimore Ravens ended with foot surgery in early November. Fleck was encouraged the 2021 first-round draft pick was “disappointed but no discouraged” by the setback. Bateman had 46 receptions for 515 yards and one TD in 12 games last season; he had 15 grabs for 285 yards and two TDs in six NFL games this year.