Bowl Breakdown: Insight
This game would get a big boost if Minnesota WR Eric Decker were healthy
For Iowa State to win, it needs to bring a heavy dose of Alexander Robinson
Minnesota's suspect offense could struggle against a D that forces turnovers
Minnesota (6-6) vs. Iowa State (6-6)
Reason to watch: If you're looking to kill some time before getting your New Year's Eve started, watch the team with the eighth-best record in the Big Ten take on the team with the eighth-best record in the Big 12 in the Mediocre (I mean, Insight) Bowl ... provided your cable system has NFL Network, that is. Really, I'm working hard to find a reason to watch, with Minnesota's most entertaining player, Eric Decker, out for the season, and Iowa State ranking 102nd in scoring offense and 99th in total defense. The schools are located 200 miles apart, hate Iowa fiercely and are hoping to avoid walking away with a losing record. That's something, right?
Keep an eye on: Iowa State running back Alexander Robinson. If the Cyclones are going to complete their turnaround from 2-10 in 2008 to a winning mark in 2009, Robinson will have to be a big factor. The junior rushed for 1,058 yards despite missing the Nebraska game and parts of others due to injury. Robinson is healthy for the bowl and faces a Minnesota defense that ranks 64th nationally against the run. Iowa State quarterback Austen Arnaud has thrown at least one interception in his last four games, so the Cyclones will likely attack the Gophers with a steady dose of Robinson, both as a runner and short-pass receiver.
Did you know: First-year Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads was the defensive coordinator for Pittsburgh in 2000, the year Iowa State beat Pitt in the Insight Bowl to notch its first bowl win in school history.
Final analysis: The Cyclones' moment in the sun this season came when they beat Nebraska by forcing a staggering eight turnovers. While that certainly wasn't the norm, Iowa State did have a knack for creating turnovers, forcing two per game on average outside of the Nebraska game. If the defense can do the same to quarterback Adam Weber and a suspect Minnesota offense, Iowa State should produce its first winning season since 2005.
The pick: Iowa State 23, Minnesota 20.
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