Outcome hinges on Hawkeyes’ ability to stop high-flying Gophers

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Minnesota’s not bringing any smoke and mirrors to Kinnick Stadium, just a 9-0 record and one of the top offenses in the Big Ten.

“This is different than anything we’ve faced this year, so we gotta be able to go out and defend it to go out there and win the game,” Iowa sophomore linebacker Djimon Colbert said.

The Golden Gophers are off to their best start since 1904.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “They’ve earned that and they’ve improved with every phase of the season, which is a real credit to their players and their staff.”

Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan leads the unit. The sophomore has thrown for 21 touchdowns and 2,100 yards with just four interceptions.

“That’s a really good indicator that not only is he being productive but he’s being smart with what he’s doing,” Ferentz said. “I think that’s probably the biggest thing right now. They don’t beat themselves. A big part of that is the quarterback play.”

Minnesota’s offensive success comes from two main areas: Efficiency and one of the best receiver groups in the entire country.

“The ability to go up and make a play on a fade or they catch a RPO on a slant and take it an extra 20, that’s like stuff you don’t see in college football right now,” Iowa junior safety Geno Stone said.

“All three of them are big deep threats down the field,” Colbert said. “They’re able to get the job done inside too on those quick slants with their RPO stuff so… easily one of the best we’ve seen this year.”

The Golden Gophers receivers have 15 receptions of 35 yards or more. They’ve scored on over half of those.

“Most of their big plays are run after the catch, so they’ll throw like a screen and get 20 off it or throw a glance RPO on the back side and get like 20 off it,” Stone said. “To be able to stop that, and stop the running backs, is gonna be the key to it.”

The Gophers have scored 28 or more points in 15 of their last 16 games, including all nine this season. The Hawkeyes, on the other hand, have only allowed three teams to score that many points during that same span, none in 2019.

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