This is copied from the ESPN Insider bowl preview. But edge goes to the Gophers in five of the nine categories and they predict a 28-24 Gopher win over the Cyclones.
We will preview more as the week rolls along but this is a good conversation starter.
ESPN highlights the key matchup as TE Nick Tow-Arnett vs. SS David Sims. I'm not so sure that is a "key" matchup though it may be interesting. Here are some of the more interesting matchups as I see them...
Iowa State RB - Alexander Robinson (from DeLeSalle) vs. The Gopher front seven - Robinson was third in the Big 12 in rushing behind a big ISU offensive line. Hopefully the Gopher DL can eat up some blocks and the LBs will be able to shut Robinson down. He has been their best offensive weapon this season.
While he doesn't have great power or size, Robinson is a patient runner who reads his blocks well, cuts back against the grain and explodes upfield when he locates a seam. He runs behind a massive offensive line -- average weight of 327 pounds -- that can cover up defenders at the first and second levels. However, the Gophers match up well. Minnesota's front four is big enough -- average weight of 295 pounds -- to hold its own in the trenches and make it difficult for Iowa State's linemen to release downfield. In addition, the seasoned Gophers linebacker corps won't let Robinson off the hook because the linebackers rarely get caught out of position and tackle well.
Minnesota OL vs. Iowa State DL - This has been a major weakness of the Gophers for two seasons now. But the Cyclones were dead last in the Big 12 in QB sacks and they allowed nearly 170 yards rushing per game. Giving Weber time and opening some holes for the Gophers to pound the rock will be critical.
The Cyclones don't have a dominant pass-rusher capable of freeing up the rest of the defensive line by consistently drawing a double-team. Iowa State will compensate and create these one-on-one situations for its pass-rushers by bringing pressure from different areas of the field. The problem is that this will create some favorable single-coverage matchups for Minnesota on the outside. With more than a month to prepare for this game, the Gophers should make sound adjustments and exploit these matchups.
Adam Weber vs. Iowa State secondary - If the OL can truly protect Weber then the onus will be on him to do something productive with the football. Also the Cyclones have suspended their starting cornerback, Kennard Banks. All of this means we "should" be able to move the ball through the air on a defense that gave up 245 passing yards per game and 22 passing touchdowns (while avoiding Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma on their schedule). Everyone around here has strong opinions on the Gopher QB situation. Regardless of how we all feel, Weber will be starting under center and he'll be given the opportunity to produce. The question is how will he perform? Will it be the Michigan State Weber or will it be the rest of the schedule's Weber?
The more I look at this matchup the more confident I become. In the past this is usually a bad thing as I'm generally wrong, but it is what it is.