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Minnesota vs Iowa College Football 2008
2* Minnesota + 6 over Iowa - It's not a question of whether or not Minnesota can play with Iowa. That much we can derive from each teams performances against common opponents. We can also take a look back to last year when Minnesota only won one game all year long yet managed to go into Iowa and only lose by 5 points. Many of the same players remain from both teams. The question here is whether Minnesota can get up for this game emotionally after last weeks loss to Wisconsin. No easy task. It's that game last week that keeps this from being a stronger play.
But it can also be looked at as a last chance game. Last chance for the Gophers, having an unexpected good year, to win a big game. A rivalry game. There's 3 games that mean the most to the Gophers each year. Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa. They have already lost to Michigan and Wisky. What a shame it would be to lose all 3 in what has been the biggest turnaround in college football this year. 1-11 to 7-4.
Again we can look at common opponents to get an idea of a win is possible. Iowa lost to Northwestern at home by 5 early in the year. Minnesota lost to Northwestern with 12 seconds left on an interception. Iowa beat Wisconsin 38-16 but remember, last week Minnesota had Wisconsin down 2 touchdowns before letting them back in the game. Iowa lost to Illinois, Minnesota beat Illinois. They both beat Purdue by similar scores and both beat Indiana, although Iowa did so more impressively.
All this again just to illustrate that Minnesota can play on the same level as Iowa. We can dig into this a little further by looking at the yards per point numbers against common opponents. When we do this we see both teams with a very nice 19 on defense. On the offensive side, Iowa weighs in with a 12.7 while Minny has a 15 which tells us that Iowa has made better use of the yards they have gained offensively and had an easier time converting those yards into points. When using these numbers to make a line on the game we'd have Iowa better by a field goal before adding home field advantage for the Gophers. So again, at +6 there's some wiggle room here.
It's a rivalry game, it's the last game in the Metrodome, it's a chance for the Gophers to finally win a big one this year and to play a full 60 minutes and finish a game. It's a chance to cement a nice bowl destination as well. We're a little concerned with the Gophers mental state after last week, but then again, if you can't get up for a big game like this, don't play college football.
Lastly, no Minnesota write up would be complete without mentioning the Gophers turnover margin this year. At times this year, they were #1 in the nation in this all important category. Right now they sit at #4. There's a couple of teams by the name of Oklahoma and Florida ahead of them, maybe you have heard of them. Everyone else in all of college football is below them in this category. This is an incredibly important in football at any level. Look at turnover margins and see a direct correlation between that and the win loss column in most cases. When a team performs well in this category, the ball doesn't simply fall into their hands. It isn't luck. Teams aren't "getting all the breaks" as some suggest. Turnovers are created. In a big game, a game that has the potential to be very close, you can be fairly certain that the outcome will be decided by a pick or an interception. A mistake somewhere along the line. You can't predict the future but you can try. We'd rather be backing the team that has proved all year long that it can end up with the ball when it pops loose more times than not. 2* Minny +6
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