MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – You didn’t think it was going to be a cakewalk, did you?
This Iowa football team is built to wear down opponents, and raise the anxiety level of everyone who bleeds black and gold.
“We better get used to it,” coach Kirk Ferentz said after Saturday’s 23-7 win over Minnesota. “That’s what it’s going to be like for the next however many games we’ve got.
“When we’re not in tight games, it’s probably a surprise.”
It was stunning how thoroughly the Hawkeyes (4-1) dominated Minnesota (4-1) statistically in their Big Ten Conference opener.
The Gophers had been averaging 282.3 rushing yards, but finished with just 30 against Iowa. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, ran for 246 and dominated total yardage 464 to Minnesota’s 165.
“We were beaten soundly,” Minnesota’s Jerry Kill said. “I take responsibility for our lack of successful coaching.”
Yet, despite all of Iowa’s gaudy numbers, things were tense well into the fourth quarter.
A sellout crowd of 51,382 remained in suspense until Mike Meyer’s 46-yard field goal with 4:48 left gave the Hawkeyes a 16-point cushion.
“It’s Big Ten football,” running back Mark Weisman said. “Most games are going to be like that.
“They’re all going to be a grind, and you’ve got to be ready for it.”
The Hawkeyes were ready when they arrived at TCF Bank Stadium.
There were chants of “Who hates Iowa? We hate Iowa,” before kickoff. By halftime, they were saying something entirely different.
You could hear boos when Minnesota faced another third-and-long. You could see others muttering under their breath when the Gophers lined up to punt.
“We’ve got to move on from good or bad plays,” said Weisman, who finished with 147 yards on 24 carries. “Keep moving forward.”
Louis Trinca-Pasat anchored the defensive front, harassing quarterback Philip Nelson throughout the first half and recording his first sack on a third-and-9 with 41 seconds left in the second quarter.
A 74-yard catch and run from Jake Rudock to Damond Powell was set up by two nimble lineman.
Right guard Andrew Donnal and right tackle Brett Van Sloten sprinted wide, providing a clear path to pay dirt.
It seemed the Hawkeyes were coasting to a fourth straight win, but the Gophers started pecking away at Iowa secondary.
The offense squandered third-quarter scoring chances. And then, Rudock threw his third fourth-quarter interception of the season.
Minnesota took possession at the 20-yard line, trailing just 20-7 with nearly 14 minutes to go.
“It’s great, the resiliency, not dwelling on a play,” Rudock said. “Because the fact is, bad plays are going to happen.
“All we were focusing on was, ‘Next drive, we need to drive it down there … Whatever we need to do.’’’
The defense did not let Minnesota cross midfield. The offense returned and drove 62 yards in 11 plays, setting up Meyer’s kick.
Was it more stress than you would have liked? Sure.
But in the end Iowa was successful. And the build up to this week’s home game with Michigan State should be a blast.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football