Minnesota and Iowa are playing each other Saturday for a bronzed pig. That never fails to amuse.
You couldn’t ask for more fun than that in a Gophers-Hawkeyes fact, yet here are some more Fun Facts:
1. Iowa is 26-13 against Minnesota since 1980, 22-49-2 before that.
2. The last time the two teams met on a Nov. 16, the Hawkeyes won in Minneapolis in 2002 to clinch a Big Ten title share.
3. This is the first time the two teams have met when both were ranked since 2003. Iowa won that year in Iowa City, 40-21. That was the last time Minnesota won 10 games in a season.
4. Minnesota is 9-0 for the first time since 1904 when they went 13-0. The coach was Henry Williams, whose record at the school was 136-33-11.
5. Iowa’s Keith Duncan leads the nation in field goals per game with 2.44, and his 22 field goals are tied for the lead with East Carolina’s Jake Verity, who has played in 10 games to Duncan’s nine. Verity is from Georgia but plays for a school in North Carolina. Duncan is from North Carolina, but plays for a school in Iowa.
6. The Gophers’ 11-game winning streak ties Baylor’s for the third-longest in the nation behind Clemson (24) and Ohio State (15).
7. The Hawkeyes have allowed 12 touchdowns, third nationally to Ohio State (8) and Georgia (10), and their 11.7 points allowed per game is fourth behind those two teams and Clemson.
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8. Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. has seven interceptions this season. Winfield is second nationally. Texas Tech’s Douglas Coleman has eight. Minnesota is tied for second nationally in interceptions with 14, including three pick-6s. Iowa, which had a national-high 21 in 2017 and a second-best 20 in 2018, has seven this year.
9. Iowa’s last home game was Oct. 19. Kinnick Stadium is a mighty big building to be unused for that long.
10. The Gophers are outgaining their opponents by an average of 123.1 yards per game. Last season, they were outgained by 6 yards per game and in 2017 they were outgained by 38 yards per game.
11. Iowa is tied with Clemson and Kentucky for the current national lead in consecutive games allowing 30 points or fewer, with 13.
12. Penn State allowed just three first-quarter points over its first eight games. Minnesota scored 14 points in the first quarter against the Nittany Lions last Saturday.
13. Only three of the Hawkeyes’ 35 drives against ranked opponents have resulted in touchdowns.
14. Minnesota’s Rashod Bateman has 38 catches for 847 yards. That’s 22.3 yards per catch, sixth in the nation.
15. Last year against Illinois and Nebraska combined, the Gophers gave up 1,305 yards and 108 points. This year, it was 546 yards and 24 points, and 14 of those points were on defensive touchdowns by the Illini.
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16. When the Gophers played at Iowa in 1991, and it was 28 degrees with snow on the ground, the announced attendance was 69,500. That was a huge exaggeration. Despite the conditions, Danan Hughes had two touchdown catches and made one snow angel in Iowa’s 23-8 win, Hayden Fry’s 100th as Iowa’s coach.
17. “We’ve had some heartbreakers in the past, but this is our year,” wrote U.S. senator and Democratic presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar in an email to The Wall Street Journal before the Gophers played Penn State last week, adding “Row the Boat.”
18. Nature Boy Ric Flair is loving the Gophers’ season. Flair got a scholarship to play football at his home state university in the late 1960s, but became academically ineligible and moved on to professional wrestling.
19. The most-famous former Hawkeye to become a pro wrestler is Ettore Ewen, known today as Big E.
20. If you want a bronze pig that’s no pair of football players can carry away, go to Seattle and see Rachel.