Three cool things:
1. I think you’re going to want to shoot this one straight into Hawkeye heart.
First, your offense, it doesn’t work this great all that often. I know, Mr. Constructive Criticism, but seriously. When you as a Hawkeye fan can sit back and look at offensive numbers and actually want to high-five someone, you know your team is talking the talk.
This also was C.J. Beathard with all of his powers, which actually was being pretty good at everything.
Two 90-yard drives in this one. I think you guys are going to like 100 percent of games in which the Hawkeyes have two 90-yard drives.
Beathard was good at these. The 2015 offense was good at these.
“You have to go in there and say, ‘Hey, we’re about to go 97 yards and put a dagger in them,’” Beathard said. “Any offense that goes 91 or 97 yards or whatever, that’s tough.”
Iowa bookended the first half with 91-yard and 97-yard drives.
“It’s demoralizing when you’re on the opposite sideline, no question,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Anytime somebody moves a ball like that for that length of the field, on our side it means somebody made a couple big plays, typically. Though the one drive was in the teens, right?
“One of our drives was. That was pretty impressive, I’ve got to tell you.”
That’s as close as Ferentz comes to flipping the bat and watching the baseball leave the yard. And, really, why not?
At this point of 2015, the Hawkeyes had five 90-yard TD drives, 13 TD drives of 80-plus yards and, against Minnesota, the Hawkeyes had five TD drives of 75-plus yards.
That’s making a withdrawal from the bank whenever you want.
“Demoralizing for us to be able to do that multiple times,” receiver Matt VandeBerg said. “As soon as C.J. got in the huddle, he said we’re going to score here. We took it upon ourselves to follow his leadership and we were able to do that.”
2. “New Kirk” was fully operational by this time in 2015.
Sometimes, it was subtle.
The Hawkeyes were big favorites this night in Kinnick. If they took care of business, they would meet Purdue the very next week at Kinnick with the Big Ten West Division title on the line.
That trophy suddenly came into view. Sure, my mind went there. I’m not the coach. I don’t have to worry about that stuff.
And my mind went to the other time the Hawkeyes had a chance to parade a trophy around Kinnick (a “championship” trophy and not a rivalry trophy, huge difference). That was 2004 Wisconsin. Iowa earned a share of the Big Ten title. The trophy made an appearance. We’ll get to this one at some point, I’m sure.
This was a departure, and, frankly, it kind of surprised me. Hear my theory.
Ferentz decided to keep the divisional trophy presentation in the locker room with the players. I’m not sure the trophy made a public appearance that day. The players did get to wear caps and T-shirts celebrating their title, but that was it.
On one hand, that sucks for you guys sitting in Kinnick, but maybe the message is this: Maybe Ferentz doesn’t want to make a big deal out of division titles. It gets you to the table across from the East Division champ.
If/when Iowa gets that silver football trophy in Indianapolis, I wouldn’t be surprised if Kinnick was opened up the next day and maybe 50,000 fans would show up for that.
I like the message, if that was Ferentz’s intent. I do think you need to know when to let your fans in. What better time to do that than when you’re celebrating a trophy?
3. Iowa lived to tell about a running back non-slide in this one. RB LeShun Daniels broke free for a long TD run. He could’ve slid inside the 5-yard line and Iowa might’ve been able to run out the clock. Instead, Daniels scored, the Gophers scored and the Hawkeyes scored again.
Really, in the end, it ended up not mattering.
Flash forward to 2017 Penn State. If Akrum Wadley slides inside the 5 ... wait, too soon. I got you.
Quote: “Though the one drive was in the teens, right? One of our drives was. That was pretty impressive, I’ve got to tell you.” — Kirk Ferentz
Note: Not really a note, but a good quote from former Iowa QB Chuck Long that looks pretty smart now that Beathard is a 49er.
“Everybody looks for stats,” said Long, Iowa’s Heisman runner-up in 1985. “But you have to watch him play. The way he moves the football team. The way he runs the ball when things break down. He gets long runs, he’s making plays with his feet.
“After this game, hopefully he’s raised some eyebrows. This kid deserves to be in that All-American type of talk.”
Why No. 57? — Minnesota and Indiana are the two Big Ten teams that haven’t sniffed a Rose Bowl for forever. Should the Rose Bowl still be a standard in the Big Ten? I think a lot of you guys are getting over it.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE OF THE GAME
Game story from 2015
IOWA CITY — It’s raining bacon here. That’s how good life is for the Hawkeyes. The skies have opened and everyone’s favorite breakfast meat is pouring down and everyone’s bellies are happy.
This metaphor is, of course, brought to you by Floyd of Rosedale. That was the No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes’ (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) tangible reward for Saturday night’s wild 40-35 victory over Minnesota (4-6, 1-5) before a sold-out crowd of 70,585 at Kinnick Stadium.
Running back LeShun Daniels got his first start since week 2 at Iowa State and poured everything into it, rushing 26 times for 195 yards and three TDs. Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard completed 18 of 26 for 213 yards and rushed for two TDs.
Minnesota running back Shannon Brooks scored a 3-yard TD to finish off a 45-second drive with 1:16 left in the game, but a drop-kick onside kick went out of bounds and Iowa could finally cuddle up in victory formation.
The Hawkeyes, 10-0 for the first time in school history, did the swarm over to Floyd. At the end, center Austin Blythe broke rank and was the first to the pig.
There will be a trophy in Kinnick Stadium next weekend when the Hawkeyes play host to Purdue (2-8, 1-5). Iowa narrowed its magic number for the Big Ten West Division title to one with Saturday night’s victory. Iowa needs to beat Purdue or have Wisconsin lose to clinch its first bid in the Big Ten title game on Dec. 5 in Indianapolis.
Bet on that “beat Purdue” thing.
This was a game of few defensive stops and tons of opportunities for both offenses. Stops, simple stops, were at a premium. When one defense didn’t get a stop, it opened the door for the opposing offense. Forget three-and-outs. In this game, eight-and-outs mattered.
The Hawkeyes opened the second-half scoring with a Marshall Koehn 38-yard field goal. It wasn’t a stop for the Gophers, but it was only three when the Hawkeyes strolled through the first half with more sevens than anything.
Iowa held a 27-14 lead with 8:04 left in the third quarter.
Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner, who accounted for 291 yards of total offense, came to play and went right back to work, directing a 14-play, 75-yard drive that ended on a 1-yard TD run by running back Rodrick Williams, pulling Minnesota within 27-21 with 1:05 left in the third.
In a game that was up-and-down offense, special teams were going to get in on the act eventually. You see this sentence and so you know that Desmond King returned the ensuing kick 58 yards to Minnesota’s 37, setting up Beathard’s 1-yard sneak for a 33-21 lead with 14:30 left in the game. Iowa tried for a two-point conversion, but Beathard was tackled by Okoboji native and Minnesota linebacker Cody Poock at the 1.
The first half turned out to be a shootout.
The Gophers hit three plays of 20-plus yards, including Leidner passes of 37 and 40 yards. The 37-yarder to wide receiver K.J. Maye set up Leidner’s 2-yard TD run. Then, Leidner hit tight end Brandon Lingen for a 40-yard TD to tie the game 14-14 with 12:06 left in the half.
From there, Beathard strutted what looks to be newfound health. He directed an 11-play drive that was stubbed out on a coverage sack, but it did end up in a Marshall Koehn 47-yard field goal for a 17-14 Iowa lead with 7:47 left in the first half.
Iowa’s defense, battered through the air and on the ground, finally got a stop, its first since the Gophers’ first drive of the game. It was an eight-and-out, but it was a stop and that was enough to launch healthy, viable Beathard.
The drive started at Iowa’s 3. Beathard kept it alive on a 9-yard completion to tight end George Kittle on a third-and-4. Then, on a first down at Iowa’s 28, Beathard broke the pocket and made one of those plays you always hear called “extended plays.” He scrambled toward the line of scrimmage and finally found tight end Henry Krieger Coble for a 32-yard gain to Minnesota’s 40.
Next play, Beathard scrambled up the middle. He kind of drifted right and then darted left and 26 yards later Iowa had a first down at Minnesota’s 14.
After a pass interference penalty set up Iowa at the 2, Daniels bashed in to give Iowa a 24-14 halftime lead.
The Hawkeyes piled up 19 first downs in the half and completed a pair of 90-plus yard TD drives, giving them five this season. Iowa went to the locker room with a 24-14 lead despite allowing 8.0 yards per play. Iowa countered that, however, with 6 of 7 on third-down conversions and did have a nice balance going with Beathard completing 14 of 20 for 132 yards and 158 rushing yards, with Daniels stacking up 90 of those.