With the non-conference schedule now completed for the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Iowa Hawkeyes, these two teams are ready to begin their Big Ten schedule. Iowa already has one piece of rivalry hardware in their trophy case for 2013 (the CyHawk trophy given for their victory over the Iowa State Cyclones last week) and they are looking for their second. This week’s game will be the battle for Floyd of Rosedale between the Gophers and Hawkeyes.
This rivalry game dates back to a tough battle in a contest in 1934 where the Iowa running back Ozzie Simmons was the recipient of some late hits. Some considered them hits dirty because Simmons was an African American player. To lighten the mood the following year, the governors from Minnesota and Iowa wagered prize hogs from their states to be awarded to the victor and the tradition stuck. Now the prize is the bronze likeness of a hog. In 2012, the Hawkeyes got the best of the Golden Gophers 31-13 and kept the trophy in Iowa City.
This season’s matchup will feature an Iowa team that dropped a devastating season opener to Northern Illinois, but has rattled off three-straight victories with the last of the three being in emphatic fashion over Western Michigan 59 – 3. The Gophers have started off their season 4-0, but it is a 4-0 that has not been without some drama as head coach Jerry Kill was hospitalized in their third game of the season. Kill has since recovered and the hospitalization was due to a seizure during the victory over Western Illinois. Kill has experienced seizures in the past as a result of his battle with epilepsy.
Coach Kirk Ferentz has been relying highly on his hard-nosed running back Mark Weisman whose consistent downhill running has been very helpful to the development of quarterback Jake Rudock. Fans really saw the Hawkeye team come together in all aspects of play in their victory last week. Fans should look for a conscience attempt at a balanced attack by the Hawkeye offense on Saturday. Thankfully for Hawkeye fans if they need to, they always have Weisman to fall back on.
As for the Gopher offense, it is still unsure what to expect from Kill’s quarterback Philip Nelson. His role will be limited in the contest and freshman Mitch Leidner performed very well in his place last week. Leidner will attempt to move the ball on the ground against Iowa, but he will have to do so against a defense that is coming off a very solid performance. The Hawkeyes have size and strength up front to match up with the Gophers powerful offensive line.
This is a home game for the Gophers and they are the 4-0 team, but look for the Hawkeyes to hand the Gophers their first defeat of the season. Both teams are playing with a sense of purpose this year and would love to be in discussions for a conference championship appearance. Unfortunately, one team will walk away disappointed on Saturday. Ferentz has his Hawkeyes playing with a lot of passion right now, and on Weisman’s broad shoulders and Rudock’s consistent play, the Hawkeyes should take the pig home in 2013