It might not be the most attractive of bowl matchups as 6-6 Iowa State hooks up with 6-6 Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.
But the game should prove interesting as the enthusiastic Cyclones play in their first bowl game since 2005.
Here’s how the game should shake out.
WHO TO WATCH: Alexander Robinson, RB, Iowa State
If the Cyclones are going to be successful in their bowl game, their running game will be the key reason. And Robinson is the key weapon after rushing for 1,000 yards for the first time in his career as he finished with 1,058 yards to rank third in the Big 12. He rushed for three 100-yard games in non-conference play a career-high 152 yards against Kansas. His running will be critical in the Cyclones’ upset hopes, as well as setting up the Cyclones’ play-action passing attack with quarterback Austen Arnaud.
WHAT TO WATCH: Will the Cyclones be as enthusiastic to play as their fans are to watch?
Considering the snow that has socked the Midwest over the last week, it’s understandable why Iowa State fans would consider their trip to the Insight Bowl as manna from heaven. ISU’s fan support helped sway bowl organizers to offer them the bowl over a team like Missouri that had a better record and a head-to-head victory over the Cyclones. Iowa State should be similarly stoked for the game and a chance to finish the season with an improbable winning record in Coach Paul Rhoads’ first season.
WHY TO WATCH: A rare matchup between two old rivals
Minnesota and Iowa State once played fairly often, meeting 20 times during a 21-season period from 1895-1915. The two teams met when iconic Iowa State running back Jack Trice was mortally injured in a 1923 game in Minneapolis. After that game, the two teams have met only four times in the ensuing seasons. The Gophers have dominated the series, claiming a 20-0-1 edge with Iowa State’s last victory in the series coming in 1898. Despite that past history, Wednesday’s game should be entertaining between two evenly matched teams.
PREDICTION: This game might be decided on what team is more excited to be at Sun Devil Stadium. Iowa State is making its first trip to a bowl game since 2005. And Minnesota is making its third trip to the Insight Bowl in four seasons. It could be worse --the Gophers could be playing at the Motor City Bowl. But the Insight Bowl appears to have become a destination for Minnesota in late December, not exactly a strong show of growth for a developing program. Look for the Cyclones to be more enthusiastic to be here, which might boost them to an upset. Iowa State 27, Minnesota 24.