ESPN: Game At Minnesota Will Be Key For Iowa's Season

John Bohnenkamp

The direction of Iowa's journey in the Big Ten West Division race might be decided by the third game of the season.

Iowa's game at Minnesota on Sept. 18, the conference opener for both schools, has been selected by ESPN.com as the Hawkeyes' most important game of the 2020 season.

ESPN.com's Bill Connolly wrote of the game:

"Iowa has beaten Minnesota five times in a row and wrecked the Gophers' unbeaten run last November in Iowa City. Not only must the Hawkeyes head north this time to fend off a revenge attempt, but they must do it on a Friday night in Week 3, right after the rivalry game against Iowa State. The Hawkeyes could still be breaking in a new quarterback and figuring out what they've got at that time. The Big Ten West race could be fascinating to follow, but the loser of this one is going to be playing from behind the rest of the fall."

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Iowa players carry the Floyd of Rosedale trophy after last season's win over Minnesota. (Bryon Houlgrave/Des Moines Register for USA Today Sports)

The Hawkeyes, who went 10-3 last season, will have a new quarterback this season — Spencer Petras figures to be No. 1 on the summer depth chart when it's released.

The game at Minnesota, scheduled to be on a Friday night, comes six days after Iowa plays host to rival Iowa State. The Hawkeyes open the season Sept. 5 against Northern Iowa.

Iowa ended Minnesota's undefeated season with a 23-19 win at Kinnick Stadium on Nov. 16.

The Hawkeyes' last loss to the Gophers was a 51-14 defeat on Nov. 8, 2014. Iowa has won seven of the last eight in the series.