The 21st annual Insight Bowl will see for the third time in four seasons the Minnesota Golden Gophers as they take on the Iowa State Cyclones in Arizona at Sun Devil Stadium.
The Gophers fell to Kansas last season, 42-21 in this bowl, and were also defeated by Texas Tech 44-41 in overtime back in 2006. Overall Minnesota is just 5-8 in bowl games and has dropped its last three postseason contests. The last time Minnesota captured a victory in a bowl game was in 2004 when the Gophers slipped past Alabama, 20-16, in the Music City Bowl. 2009 was an inconsistent season for Minnesota, which finished with a mere 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten.
The Golden Gophers did very little offensively all season long and tallied just 295.8 total ypg on the season, and that lead to a mediocre 21 ppg. The ground game struggled and the team averaged a meager 97.6 ypg on 2.9 yards per carry, ranking 112th in the country. Daune Bennett scored 6 rushing touchdowns on the season, but the tailback rushed for just 376 yards, while Kevin Whaley added 325 yards and 2 scores on 4.2 yards per attempt. The passing attack was not much better for the Gophers, as the team threw for just 198.2 ypg during the regular season. Adam Weber was inconsistent completing just 51.6 percent of his throws. Weber totaled just 2,321 yards in the air and tossed just 12 touchdowns against 14 interceptions. The only reliable target for Weber has been Eric Decker, who led the team with 50 receptions, 758 yards and 5 touchdowns but he is listed as questionable due to a sprain foot.
Tim Brewster’s Gophers come into this matchup allowing 24 ppg, but struggles against the pass and the run. Opponents have thrown for 217.4 ypg against the Gophers, and stopping the run has been an even bigger problem for Minnesota, as the team is being gashed for 146.7 ypg on the ground and has also allowed 18 rushing touchdowns. Lee Campbell has racked up 112 tackles and 9.5 for a loss. Nate Triplett has 96 tackles.
The Cyclones also finished with a mere 6-6 overall record and 3-5 in the Big 12. This is the 10th bowl appearance for Iowa State, and the first for the team since 2005. The Cyclones have dropped seven of their nine bowl matchups, but one of their two victories came in the 2000 Insight Bowl, as Iowa State defeated Pittsburgh, 37-29.
Paul Rhoads Cyclones have been mediocre at best offensively, finishing the regular season averaging a mere 21 ppg. The rushing attack has been successful turning out 177.3 ypg. Alexander Robinson has rumbled for 1,058 yards and 6 touchdowns on the season, while quarterback Austen Arnaud has contributed with 485 yards and 7 rushing scores on the ground but only throwing for 1,799 yards, tossing 13 touchdowns against 11 interceptions. The Cyclones at times use San Antonio’s Robert E. Lee High Schools Jerome Tiller to pass the ball. Marquis Hamilton has been the most reliable wideout hauling in 46 receptions for 574 yards and 4 touchdowns while Jake Williams has scored 4 times on 320 yards.
Iowa State has held the opposition to just 22 ppg on the season while surrendering a whopping 414.3 total ypg. Iowa State was gashed for 169.3 ypg on the ground, and against the pass the team was even worse, allowing 245.0 ypg through the air including 22 touchdowns. On the season the Cyclones have collected 14 interceptions and have also recovered 16 fumbles. Jesse Smith has racked up a team-high 128 tackles and Christopher Lyle has 11 tackles for loss and 4 sacks.
The Golden Gophers hold a commanding 22-2-1 edge over Iowa State in the all- time series, but over the past 85 years these two schools have only collided three times. All three matchups went in favor of Minnesota, including the last meeting in 1997 when the Golden Gophers pounded Iowa State, 53-29.
PICK: Iowa State University Cyclones