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Big Ten Playoffs in full swing for Iowa

BY DANNY PAYNE | NOVEMBER 07, 2014 5:00 AM

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Over the past two weeks, there has been much talk around the country about the College Football Playoff. The Big Ten has only one legitimate top-four contender in Michigan State — past that, it’s incredibly unlikely the conference will be represented.

Even though that’s the case, don’t tell Carl Davis the rest of the season doesn’t matter. According to the senior, Iowa’s in the thick of the “Big Ten Playoffs” and faces archrival Minnesota on Saturday in Minneapolis.

“We’ve both got something to play for, like I said, we’re playing for the Big Ten. You have to win or go home,” the defensive tackle said. “That’s the mindset that we want to have. It creates more tension.”

Iowa and Minnesota own identical 6-2 records and are in a three-way tie with Wisconsin for second in the Big Ten West with 3-1 conference marks.

Throw in that this is the latest in the season Iowa and Minnesota have played since 2010-11, and Davis is right. This game does carry more weight.

Oh, yeah, and the winner gets possession of the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy until next season.

“They’re a good football team,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said at his weekly news conference Tuesday. “The biggest differences are they’re more veteran, a lot more experienced, older, physical guys, and they run the ball with great success. And their running back has done a tremendous job.”

Ferentz, of course, was speaking about Gopher running back David Cobb, who will come into the game ranked third in the Big Ten with 141.4 rushing yards per game. The senior is roughly 6 yards shy of Western Michigan’s Jarvion Franklin, putting him in the top five nationally.

Iowa isn’t any stranger to facing the run — the Hawkeyes have faced two of the top-five rushers in the country in Tevin Coleman and James Conner.

The Gophers are coming off a bye week, and they cannot afford to lose another game over the rest of the season. Before their bye, the Gophers lost a 28-24 contest in Champaign, Illinois, to the co-bottom dwellers of the West.

On Nov. 1, the Hawkeyes walloped Northwestern, 48-7. Mark Weisman rushed for 3 touchdowns, and Akrum Wadley rushed for more than 100 yards, the first Hawkeye to do so since Nov. 9, 2013.

As the weather gets colder, Iowa will likely utilize those two backs, in addition to Damon Bullock, Jonathan Parker, and potentially Jordan Canzeri (who sat out last week with an injury), on a more frequent basis.

Cornerback Greg Mabin said the team has been discussing the Big Ten “playoffs” since the summer, and the matchup in Minneapolis means inching closer and closer to a possible matchup with the winner of the Big Ten East in Indianapolis on Dec. 6.

“Coach Ferentz always tries to stress to win in November,” Mabin said. “It’s when things really start to count; it’s when we get into the hard part of our schedule.”

Follow @dannyapayne on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa football team.


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