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Four down territory: Minnesota

Four things that will help Iowa win its Big Ten opener on Friday against Minnesota: 1. Establish the run. Working in synch with the offensive line, Mark Weisman has thrived by pounding the inside zone the past two games. The blocking of center James Ferentz and guards Austin Blythe and Matt Tobin has provided Weisman with more than ample running room and allowed the Hawkeyes to gain rushing yardage which is forcing opponents to put eight men in the box. 2. Keep chucking the ball. Iowa's passing game continues to evolve and the more opponents commit to defending the run, the more Iowa receivers should find themselves with one-on-one opportunities. The Hawkeyes connected on three passing plays of 20-plus yards last week against Central Michigan, needed growth through game experience from a segment which has been inconsistent. 3. Clean up their act. Iowa can help itself by returning to the disciplined style of football the Hawkeyes have been known for in recent years. Iowa was whistled for nine penalties last week, including four personal foul and two pass interference calls which extended Central Michigan drives. 4. Make life difficult for Minnesota QB Max Shortell. The more pressure Iowa's defense can put on the sophomore, the better. Iowa's defense has recorded five sacks and intercepted three passes through four games. Four things Minnesota can do to retain ownership of Floyd of Rosedale trophy it earned the past two years: 1. Keep the heat on Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg. The Golden Gophers have sacked opposing quarterbacks 11 times this season and have passed last year's season total of four interceptions with seven picks this season. The Gophers have shown the ability to work fast and create havoc, something they must continue. 2. Hold their ground. Ra'Shede Hageman, a 6-foot-6, 301-pound nose guard, anchors a defensive line which has been stout against the run. They'll face their biggest challenge of the season Saturday in attempting to limit the Hawkeyes' Mark Weisman, who has gained 338 yards on 53 carries this season for Iowa for an average of 6.4 yards per rush. 3. Play to its strengths. Max Shortell is not as much of a threat to run as the injured quarterback he is replacing, MarQueis Gray. A strong-armed sophomore, Shortell threw for a career-high 231 yards against Syracuse last weekend. A.J. Barker has been his favorite target. Barker, who had one catch a year ago, has 14 catches for 283 yards this season. 4. Exploit an edge on special teams. Minnesota's kick returner, Troy Stoudermire, enters Saturday's game 328 yards shy of an NCAA career record for kick return yardage. Iowa will need to be aware of his presence as a potential field-position difference maker.

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