No. 8 Iowa looks for 1st 10-0 start vs. Minnesota

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) No. 8 Iowa insists it isn't worried about the Big Ten West title, a league championship or its current standing in the playoff chase.

Starting 10-0 for the first time is all the Hawkeyes (9-0, 5-0 Big Ten, No. 5 CFP) care about these days.

Iowa can knock off the first of what it hopes will be many milestones on Saturday when it hosts Minnesota (4-5, 1-4). The Hawkeyes have never won 10 in a row to start a season - not even when they finished in the top 10 three years in a row earlier last decade.

A win over the Gophers would also put Iowa one step closer to the West title and a subsequent date with the East champion - possibly No. 2 Ohio State - next month.

''You can only get there week by week,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. ''I know it's boring and mundane. But for us to be focused or spend time on anything else right now is really counterproductive.''

Minnesota might not be a pushover though.

The Gophers have played inspired ball since former coach Jerry Kill's sudden resignation, pushing Michigan to the final play in a 29-26 loss and staying within 28-14 last week against the powerhouse Buckeyes.

Coach Tracy Claeys was rewarded by the university Wednesday when it announced it had removed his interim tag and signed him to a three-year contract.

Here are some of the story lines to follow as Iowa and Minnesota renew acquaintances in Iowa City:

BLACKOUT: Iowa's first-ever crack at 10-0 will coincide with its first game playing in ''blackout'' uniforms. The Hawkeyes typically change nothing but their white jerseys for black ones at home, but Ferentz loosened up and allowed Nike to design a special uniform. Iowa's fans, who've been encouraged to wear black as well, have yet to see the new design. But the players have, and apparently they're a hit. ''I think you guys will like them,'' running back LeShun Daniels told reporters Tuesday.

SOLID D: Minnesota's offense has been inconsistent all year, but its defense is among the better ones in the country. The Gophers are 24th nationally in total defense at just 330 yards allowed per game, including just 177 per game through the air. Minnesota also kept TCU, Michigan and Ohio State under 30 points, though it couldn't generate enough points to win any of those games.

PIGGING OUT: One of most colorful trophies in the country will be on the line Saturday, a 98-pound bronze pig named the ''Floyd of Rosedale.'' Floyd has spent the past year in Minneapolis in a reminder of just how quickly things can change in college football. Minnesota scored the final 51 points last season in a 51-14 romp over Iowa. But this year, the Gophers are 12-point underdogs. ''You don't have to remind yourself when you're playing for the pig. It's something you walk into breakfast this morning, everyone's like, `Where's the bacon?' Everyone's ready,'' Minnesota end Gaelin Elmore said.

C.J.'S TEAM: Iowa's resurgence has been fueled by play-making quarterback C.J. Beathard, whose leaping TD run last week at Indiana helped the Hawkeyes prevail 35-27. ''That's a special thing, and I'm not sure you teach it,'' Ferentz said. ''But certain players just have a little something extra they add to the equation, and certainly C.J. has demonstrated that.''

GRAPPLE ON THE GRIDIRON: The Iowa wrestling team will borrow Kinnick Stadium for a few hours Saturday when it hosts Oklahoma State in the first match ever held at a Division I football stadium. The Hawkeyes are expecting close to 40,000 fans for the event, which will be held seven hours before kickoff.

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AP Sports Writer Dave Campbell in Minneapolis contributed to this report

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Online:

AP college football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org

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Follow Luke Meredith on Twitter at www.twitter.com/LukeMeredithAP and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LukeMeredithAP

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