Iowa Football

Iowa football: 5 things to know about Minnesota

Like Hawkeyes, Gophers got first win Saturday

Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim, carrying the ball against Illinois on Saturday, is averaging just under 200 yard
Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim, carrying the ball against Illinois on Saturday, is averaging just under 200 yards per game and is coming off back-to-back 200-yard outings. The Gophers host Iowa on Friday. (Associated Press)
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Dig the pig. It’s time for the annual Floyd of Rosedale battle between the Iowa and Minnesota football teams, the first “trophy game” of the 2020 season. In this unusual shortened Big Ten Conference campaign, this game will take place on a rather unusual night — Friday at 6 p.m.

This will be the 114th season these rivals have met, the 86th with a bronze pig on the line. Minnesota leads this series overall, 62-49-2, and has a 42-41-2 advantage in pig games.

But the Hawkeyes have won five in a row — tying their longest streak in this series — and seven of the last eight.

Here are 5 Things about Friday’s game.

1. Minnesota’s First win

Like Iowa, Minnesota picked up its first win on Saturday, dominating Illinois, 44-14.

But ... well, this is what the Associated Press wrote about that game:

“(Tanner) Morgan and (Mohamed) Ibrahim had their way against a depleted Illinois defense and an impotent offense led by an injured fourth-string quarterback. This game was over by the end of the first quarter.”

Illinois was missing 12 players because of COVID-19 protocols, including its No. 1 and No. 2 QBs.

Still, the Gophers had 541 yards off offense, including 325 on the ground.

Minnesota is averaging 238.7 rushing yards in three games and 200.67 passing yards. The Gophers are scoring 36.33 points per game, allowing 36.

They opened with a 49-24 loss at home to a now-struggling Michigan team and fell in overtime at Maryland, 45-44.

2. Mohamed Ibrahim: Running man

Minnesota loves running the football and, even in the two losses, has done a lot of running in 2020.

A 5-foot-10, 210-pound junior from Baltimore, Ibrahim has 571 yards and six touchdowns in three games, an average of 190.33 yards per game and 5.9 per rush.

He was named Big Ten offensive player of the week on Monday after gaining 224 rushing yards and scoring four TDs against Illinois with a career-high 282 all-purpose yards. He had 207 yards and four TDs on 41 carries in the loss to Maryland and is only the second Minnesota player with consecutive 200-yard rushing games.

3. Tanner Morgan: Familiar face

Morgan has started the last 22 games at quarterback for the Gophers and has a 16-6 record.

He didn’t play against the Hawkeyes as a freshman — assuming controls two games after that 48-31 Iowa win in 2018 — but he completed 25 of 36 for 368 yards last season at Kinnick Stadium. He had only one TD, however, in the 23-19 Iowa win.

The 6-2, 215-pound junior from Union, Ky., passed for a school-record 3,253 yards last year with a school-record 30 TDs as the Gophers went 11-2.

This year, he has passed for 602 yards in three games, completing 45 of 73 passes with three TDS and two interceptions.

4. P.J. Fleck: The teacher

Minnesota Coach P.J. Fleck has been the butt of many jokes and, after reading his team the children’s story “Everyone Poops” before the Illinois game, expect a few more.

But Fleck also has a knack for turning programs around. His first Western Michigan team went 1-11, his last 13-1. Minnesota was 5-7 in his first season, 11-2 last year.

As for his latest story, Fleck wanted to teach his players they can grow after some, well, poopy performances.

“I mean, that’s Coach Fleck,” Morgan said after the Illinois game. “It hit perfect of being able to grow ... I think our guys really took to it.”

5. Minnesota football history lesson

It’s been a while, but Minnesota has quite a history of success.

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The Gophers have won nine national titles, the first in 1904 and the last in 1960. From 1900 to 1919, Minnesota never had a losing season. Henry L. Williams led the team to a 35-game non-losing streak (34 wins) from 1903 to ’05. Then, from 1934 to ’36, the Gophers won three straight national titles under the direction of Bernie Bierman, winning 23 of 24 games in that span.

Minnesota also won national titles in 1940 and ’41 — with Bierman as coach — and again in 1960, even though it lost the Rose Bowl to Washington.

Bierman, by the way, coached Minnesota to a 93-35-6 record with those five national titles and seven Big Ten titles.

Comments: (319) 398-8416; jr.ogden@thegazette.com

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