The NCAA postseason kicked off Dec. 19, with 34 games being played in a three-week span.
Seniors will get their last hurrah, and teams will attempt to end their season on the winning end, in the hopes of improving the recruiting that soon follows.
The Sportmeisters will preview each of the games that lie ahead, and provide our predictions as well. Let’s get to it!
Insight Bowl, Dec. 31, 6:00 PM, Tempe, AZ - Iowa State (6-6) vs. Minnesota (6-6)
About Iowa State : Is inconsistency a good thing? For the Iowa State Cyclones, they never could get into a groove this season. Win two, lose two, win two, lose two, and so on it went.
They didn’t clinch bowl eligibility until their second to last game, and still lost their final game of the season to finish 6-6.
Iowa State has trouble scoring (102nd with 21.08 points per game), and throwing the ball (97th with 182.08 yards per game). Other than that, they are a good team.
Junior RB Alexander Robinson eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark rushing, earning 1056 yards and five touchdowns.
Junior QB Austen Arnaud plays a dual threat, and has shown well for it. He earned 2,286 all-purpose yards and scored a combined 21 touchdowns from rushing and passing.
Iowa State has had their struggles on defense as well. They are 99th in total defense (414.33 yards a game), and they don’t get much pressure either (112th in sacks with 1.17 a game).
Their best player is undoubtedly Senior LB Jesse Smith, who has 128 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two interceptions.
Junior DB David Sims is also a bright spot, compiling 81 tackles and four interceptions. With Iowa State, they win depending on which team decides to show up to play.
About Minnesota : Minnesota is even less consistent than their opponent. The Golden Gophers won two in a row to start the season, they kept bouncing back and forth.
Win one, lose one, for most of the season. They too, did not win their bowl eligible sixth game until their second to last one, and finished at 6-6.
Minnesota is inept on offense, enough said. They do not rank below 80th in any major offensive category. Overall, Minnesota only averages 295.83 yards, good for 113th in NCAA FBS. They can’t score either, only averaging 21.58 points a game (98th in NCAA FBS).
Their top receiving target, Senior WR Eric Decker, has 50 catches for 758 yards and five touchdowns. He also hasn’t played since getting injured in their game against Ohio State.
Junior QB Adam Weber has struggled mightily, throwing 14 interceptions against 12 touchdowns.
The Golden Gophers are slightly better defensively, but they still don’t rank higher than 55th in any major category.
Senior LB Lee Campbell is the leader of the defense, racking up 112 tackles, a fumble return and an interception. Senior LB Nate Triplett is right behind him with 95 tackles, two interceptions, and a fumble return for a touchdown.
The Matchup : Iowa State is just 2-7 in bowl games. This is their first appearance since a 2005 loss in the Houston Bowl.
Minnesota is 5-8 in their bowl games, having lost three in a row. This is their fourth appearance in five years in the Insight Bowl, having lost all three previous matchups.
Iowa State is the proverbial “happy to be here team”. They lost ten games last season, lost their coach, and were picked to finish last in the Big 12. For them to be here is an accomplishment in itself.
That being said, neither team has the “it” factor to really give them a shot. Minnesota’s most redeeming quality is their 22-2-1 record against Iowa State. They haven’t lost since 1898, winning their most recent matchup in 1997, 53-29.
The Prediction : Minnesota has the slightly better defense, and should do just enough to win. Minnesota 21, Iowa State 17