Minnesota-Iowa predictions: Confidence in Gophers rising but not unanimous

Perception has changed slightly for the Minnesota Gophers in the eyes of national analysts.

Last week, as you might recall, few thought Minnesota could beat Penn State at home. You also might recall how that game turned out.

This week, the Gophers are on the road — and despite being ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press top-25 poll and No. 8 in the College Football Playoff rankings — are a three-point underdog at Iowa.

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Las Vegas might not be in on Minnesota yet, but the analysts are coming around. Mostly. But not all.

In our search for predictions from around the web, roughly two-thirds are picking Minnesota to win. It’s a step up, at least. Now we’ll see if the Gophers can back up that confidence in them.

Here’s this week’s picks from around the web:

The Associated Press’ Ralph D. Russo: Minnesota 20, Iowa 18.

Pete Fiutak of Collegefootballnews.com: Minnesota 23, Iowa 20. “Minnesota is amazing at winning close games, and Iowa is just okay at it. Iowa is roughly three plays away from unbeaten – or close to three plays – but that’s sort of the point. Minnesota is 5-0 in games decided by a touchdown or less, and Iowa is 2-3 in those games.”

Bill Bender of The Sporting News: Minnesota 24, Iowa 23.

Kevin McGuire of Athlon Sports: Iowa 27, Minnesota 23. “A week after one of the biggest wins in program history, Minnesota is confident and continuing to grow as a team that expects to win. But they have to pass a few speed bumps on their way to Indianapolis for the Big Ten championship game, and a road trip to Kinnick Stadium is one of the toughest bumps that there is. Minnesota’s dream season runs into a wall against a motivated Iowa team ready to play the role of spoiler, and the Hawkeyes‘ defense holds off the Gophers.”

Joel Reuter of Bleacher Report: Iowa 21, Minnesota 17. “The Hawkeyes surrendered 250 rushing yards to Jonathan Taylor last week and still kept things close against Wisconsin in a 24-22 loss, so they are capable of hanging tough even if the Minnesota running game is firing on all cylinders. The undefeated run stops here for the Gophers in a classic grind-it-out Big Ten game.”

Zac Al-Khateeb of The Sporting News: Minnesota 27, Iowa 23. “The Hawkeyes are one of college football’s best defensive teams, allowing an average of 289 yards and 11.7 points per game. Both teams are coming off hard games (Iowa against Wisconsin), so it could be sloppy in the beginning. But Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan (2,100 passing yards, 21 touchdowns, four interceptions) should pick things up in the second half en route to a big win.”

Sam McKewon of the Omaha World-Leader: Minnesota 23, Iowa 20. “The Hawkeyes have won four straight games in the Floyd of Rosedale series and six of the past seven. How much will Minnesota have in the tank after an emotional win over Penn State? Plenty. The Gophers have defied all odds to this point. While Iowa has played spoiler often — Ohio State in 2017, Michigan in 2016, Penn State in 2008 — it won’t happen here.”

Josh Slagter of MLive.com: Minnesota 27, Iowa 23. “It appears the Golden Gophers earned respect last week from everyone except the oddsmakers. Unbeaten Minnesota is a road underdog to an Iowa team that hasn’t gotten over the hump against any ranked team this season. Minnesota’s defense gave up 518 yards to Penn State last week, so there’s concern there, but on offense it will be able to move the ball against an Iowa defense that gave up 250 yards rushing to Jonathan Taylor last week. The undefeated dream lives on for P.J. Fleck and crew.”

Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register: Minnesota 28, Iowa 24.

Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: Iowa 15, Minnesota 11. “They generally play this game for nothing more than a bronze pig, the celebrated Floyd of Rosedale. Suddenly, though, the pig is wearing lipstick. The Gophers are 9-0 for the first time since 1904, and people – apparently under the influence – are adding them to the playoff discussion. It would be very Big Ten-like for a team’s magical run to end in slop.”

Joe Vozzelli of the Champaign News-Gazette: Minnesota 24, Iowa 22.

Stewart Mandel of The Athletic ($): Minnesota 24, Iowa 20. “On the one hand, this is a tough turnaround for the Gophers after last week’s emotional, historic home game against Penn State. It would not be surprising if their offense comes out flat against a tough Hawkeyes defense. All in all, though, I just think Minnesota is the better team. Tanner Morgan and Co. get to 10-0.”

The Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel: Minnesota 26, Iowa 17.

Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com: Minnesota 27, Iowa 20. “This spread is straight up disrespectful. I know that Iowa has had a lot of success against highly-ranked teams in Iowa City, but the Hawkeyes are usually the underdog in those spots. Now they’re favored here for some reason. Now, I took Penn State against Minnesota in this very column last week, and Minnesota shut me up. I know it’s on the road here, and there’s a letdown factor at play, but there’s no reason for the Gophers to be getting points.”

Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Minnesota 20, Iowa 17. “Leave it to Iowa to ruin somebody’s fun in the Big Ten. The Hawkeyes are classic spoilers, and that’s probably why they’re favored in this Big Ten West matchup against the sizzling Gophers. If Minnesota can row the boat through Iowa City, P.J. Fleck will keep pushing for national coach of the year honors. He’s got the oars to get it done.”

Al Arend of the Herald-Palladium: Iowa 21, Minnesota 20.

Brady McCollough of the Los Angeles Times: Minnesota 28, Iowa 20.

Joseph Goodman and Lee Sterling of Al.com: Goodman – Minnesota 30, Iowa 27 18; Sterling: Iowa 27, Minnesota 20.

Bill Connelly of ESPN: His S&P+ projection has it Minnesota 27, Iowa 24.

SportsLine Projection Model: Iowa 20, Minnesota 19.

Only three of nine analysts for the Dallas Morning News have Minnesota winning. Of the six others, three think the Gophers will cover a three-point spread.

All three Athlon Sports analysts are picking Minnesota to win.

Four of the six analysts at USAToday.com pick Iowa to win.

Five of seven analysts at SI.com think Minnesota will emerge with a victory. Lorenzo Arguello writes: “Minnesota is riding high after its upset win against Penn State. The Gophers bring a No. 8 College Football Playoff ranking to Iowa City, hoping they can keep climbing toward a spot in the selection committee’s final four. And this date with Iowa is exactly the kind of game that can derail a dream season. Minnesota hasn’t beaten Iowa on the road in its last eight tries. That being said, I have a hard time seeing the Hawkeyes’ offense keeping up with Tanner Morgan & Co. P.J. Fleck keeps rowing the boat to 10–0.”

Five of seven CBSSports.com analysts think Minnesota will win. One of the other two has the Gophers covering getting three points.

Two of the three analysts at FootballScoop.com pick Minnesota to win.