Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:48 AM

Iowa vs. Minnesota Week 11 Predictions, Odds

  • November 13, 2020
  • By Joe Nelson

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The Big Ten is in the spotlight Friday night with a matchup of West rivals as Iowa visits Minnesota.

These teams met in a memorable spot on the schedule last season and this year following 0-2 starts, both squads delivered emphatic wins last week.

Here is a look at a key battle in the Big Ten West Friday night to start a big college football weekend as Iowa visits Minnesota.


Iowa-Minnesota Betting Odds

Line Movements

  • Spread: Iowa -3.5
  • Money-Line: Iowa -160 Minnesota +140
  • Total: 57.5

Odds Subject to Change

How to Handicap Iowa-Minnesota

While Minnesota delivered a strong 2019 season as a co-division champion and bowl winner that landed in the national top 10 by the end of the season, the Gophers didn’t solve their rival to the south, losing to Iowa for a fifth straight season.

While Minnesota has the historical series edge at 62-49-2, Iowa has dominated the past four decades including a 15-6 S/U and 13-7-1 ATS run since 1999 when Kirk Ferentz took over in Iowa City.

Minnesota has featured six different head coaches in the time Ferentz has been at Iowa but current head coach P.J. Fleck appears to have some staying power after last season’s breakthrough 11-2 campaign. Fleck is 0-3 vs. Iowa however, losing last season as a 9-0 squad ranked #8 in the polls.

Iowa appears to be leading with its defense this season, currently among the national leaders allowing only 4.1 yards per play, nearly half the 8.0 average Minnesota has allowed, which is the worst nationally at this point in the season.

Minnesota does have stronger returning personnel on offense however and so far in the matching 1-2 starts the Gophers have been the considerably superior offensive team.

Checking the weather in Minneapolis is always warranted, particularly in November. While Friday morning will start with a low around 15 degrees, by game time the temperature is expected to climb into the low 30s.

After some snowfall earlier in the week, Friday night appears to offer a clear window with some wind possible in the lower double-digit MPH range.

Big Ten Race

With a planned eight game schedule in the Big Ten this season the 0-2 starts for both of these teams may have knocked them out of the division race already.

The victor could still have a path to contention however as the current leaders Northwestern and Purdue are risks to fall back to the pack and the favorite Wisconsin has already missed two games due to Covid issues; one more missed game and the Badgers will be ineligible for the division title.


Despite losing records both Iowa and Minnesota have positive scoring differentials and both teams can easily make a claim deserving to have a better record right now. Iowa blew a 20-14 fourth quarter lead vs. Purdue and an early 17-0 lead vs. Northwestern while winning the yardage battle in both losses.

Minnesota had a 38-21 4th quarter lead over Maryland in a prime time game two weeks ago only to lose in overtime with a missed PAT after a touchdown that could have forced a second session.

Minnesota actually could be in better shape in the Big Ten West race via tiebreakers as both losses came vs. East teams while Iowa is 0-2 in the division.

Quarterback Corner

Nate Stanley was a solid three year starter at quarterback for Iowa and replacing him has been a challenge.

Stanley is currently a practice squad player across town with the Vikings and Spencer Petras has struggled to lead the Hawkeyes so far.

A redshirt sophomore from California, Petras stands 6’5” and did see token snaps last season. This year he has completed 54 percent of his passes for only 5.6 yards per attempt and has more interceptions than touchdowns. All three interceptions came in the meltdown vs. Northwestern but even in last week’s convincing win Petras had a very low completion rate.

Originally recruited by Fleck to Western Michigan, Tanner Morgan emerged as the Minnesota starter as a freshman in 2018. He delivered a huge campaign last season with 30 touchdowns and only seven interceptions, passing for over 3,000 yards on 10.2 yards per attempt with a lot of big plays.

Last year’s leading receiver Tyler Johnson is now catching passes from Tom Brady on Sundays. Another NFL prospect Rashod Bateman decided to return after initially opting out of the season, as Minnesota has the tools to be a successful offensive team.

Betting Analysis – Hawkeyes

Straight Up - SU, Against the Spread - ATS, Over-Under (O/U)

  • 2020: 1-2 S/U, 1-2 ATS, 1-2 O/U
  • 2019: 10-3 S/U, 6-7 ATS, 3/8 O/U

Iowa has outscored its opponents 89-52 while finishing plus in yardage in all three games by margins of +74, +20, and +119.

Iowa’s last two opponents have been held below 300 yards though last week’s blowout win over Michigan State featured some big breaks, finishing +3 in turnovers and scoring a pair of touchdowns just before halftime on a punt return and an interception return.

The defense has been excellent, holding opponents to below 56 percent pass completions and 6.0 yards per attempt, both among the best marks in the Big Ten.

While comparing teams nationally is a bit misleading given the unbalanced schedules at this point, only five teams have allowed fewer yards per rush than Iowa’s 2.6 average and Iowa trails only San Diego State, Cincinnati, and Marshall in yards per play allowed at 4.1 with that trio of teams a combined 14-1 this season.

Petras has struggled as the offense is in a transition season but the running game has been disappointing as well.

While Tyler Goodson has 233 yards and 5.4 yards per carry to lead Iowa, the Hawkeyes haven’t been able to lean on their running game while playing with a lead much of the season.

Goodson’s season numbers are built mostly on last week’s performance that included a 71-yard run vs. Michigan State as he was held in check by both Purdue and Northwestern.

While Iowa has a well established home field edge, the Hawkeyes have performed well in recent years on the road, including a 24-12 S/U and 22-13-1 ATS mark since 2013.

Iowa did lose the opener at Purdue as a similarly priced favorite and went 2-2 S/U and ATS on the road last season in Big Ten play. Iowa has won and covered in the past two trips to Minneapolis winning a low scoring 14-7 game in 2016 and a shootout 48-31 in 2018.

Iowa is just 3-3 S/U and ATS in the past six trips in games outdoors at TCF, which opened in 2009. Iowa will have another difficult road game up next playing at Penn State next Saturday.

Betting Analysis - Golden Gophers

  • 2020: 1-2 S/U, 1-2 ATS, 2-1 O/U

Fleck led a great turnaround in four years at Western Michigan going from 1-11 in 2013 to 13-1 in 2016. He appeared to be a year ahead of schedule after 5-7 and 7-6 seasons, breaking through to 11-2 last season for the Gophers.

Minnesota did have a few suspect results with three close games in non-conference play but the enthusiasm for the program climbed to heights not seen in decades, reaching a peak winning a November showdown with Penn State in a pairing of undefeated teams.

The Gophers would lose two of the final three Big Ten West games and Wisconsin represented the division in the Big Ten title game but a nice win over Auburn in the Outback Bowl capped off a great season.

Expectations are now elevated for Fleck and the Gophers particularly with a veteran offensive line along with Morgan, Bateman and running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who was a productive complement to Rodney Smith last season. An early score in the opener set a positive tone for the Gophers but Michigan would lead 35-17 by halftime and the eventual 49-24 defeat to the Wolverines certainly looks even worse at this point.

Maryland beating Penn State last week softens the 45-44 defeat on the road but this home game now stands out as a critical turning point for the season after getting in the win column last week vs. Illinois.

Next up is Purdue, Wisconsin, and Northwestern in succession, three teams all still entering this week undefeated in the Big Ten West.

While the defense has struggled, Minnesota has scored 109 points in three games for more than 36 points per game on average.

Last week’s 49-point performance for Iowa was the first time the Hawkeyes had topped 36 points in Big Ten play since 2018 as the Gophers may be a threat to simply outscore Iowa even if the defense is vulnerable.

Minnesota did hold Illinois to only 287 yards last week but the Illini have greatly struggled this season and are deep on the depth chart at quarterback as it can’t be taken as a sign of major improvement. Defensive Coordinator Joe Rossi ironically missed last week’s game after testing positive for COVID-19 and he has returned to the team this week.

There has been a slight home field edge for the Gophers in the Fleck era with a 15-7 S/U mark having gone 12-10 ATS since he took over in 2017, though only 8-7 S/U & 8-7 ATS in Big Ten home games, now dropping each of the past two as home underdogs with the season finale loss hosting Wisconsin last season and the season opener vs. Michigan this season.

Historically Speaking

Last Season - (Iowa 23 Minnesota 19)

In an electric atmosphere Minnesota beat Penn State 31-26 at home in a pairing of 8-0 squads, with Penn State ranked #4 in the nation. It was a tight game as Penn State threatened late with an interception in the end zone ending the game. Morgan had a flawless performance as the Gophers hit several big plays with Bateman and Johnson combining for more than 300 yards on 14 catches.

The next week 9-0 and #8 ranked Minnesota was an underdog in Iowa City and predictably fell flat.

Iowa entered that game off a tough 24-22 loss at Wisconsin, sitting at just 3-3 in Big Ten play but with three losses by a combined margin of 14 points all vs. ranked opponents. Iowa built a 13-0 lead in the first quarter but by the end of three quarters Minnesota was back in the game down 20-13.

The key play of the game may have been a sack by A.J. Espensa late in the third quarter taking Minnesota from 2nd-and-10 at the Iowa 20 to 3rd-and-long with the Gophers eventually stopped on downs for the second time in the game on the edge of scoring range, after also missing an earlier field goal.

Minnesota would still climb within four with a touchdown with just over three minutes to go. Those laying points with the Hawkeyes got a huge gift as Minnesota missed the PAT that would have made it a three-point game, even with the common closing spread.

The Gophers forced a punt but took two more sacks, one of which knocked Morgan out of the game. Backup Cole Kramer was forced into the game for 3rd and 4th down desperation plays, the second of which was intercepted.

Notable Betting Trends

-- Iowa is 20-2 S/U and 16-6 ATS as a road favorite since 2013

-- Since 2004, Iowa is 39-13 S/U and 33-18-1 ATS when favored by 7 or fewer points

-- Iowa is 20-7 S/U and 18-8-1 ATS vs. Minnesota since 1993

-- Minnesota is 13-26 S/U and 24-15 ATS as a home underdog since 2007

-- Since 2000 Minnesota is 18-36 S/U and 23-28-3 ATS when an underdog of 7 or fewer points

Iowa-Minnesota Predictions

  • Score Prediction: Iowa 34 Minnesota 27
  • Best Bet: Iowa -3.5
  • Total Lean: Over 57.5

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