Iowa Football

No. 20 Iowa 23, No. 8 Minnesota 19: The Pig and the glory

Hawkeyes end Minnesota's undefeated dream season with a fast start and 6 sacks

IOWA CITY — The Hawkeyes piled into the north end zone. By the time the Kinnick Stadium crowd joined the players on the field, the gold “Iowa” painted into the turf there actually read “wa.”

No. 20 Iowa (7-3, 4-3 Big Ten) sacked Minnesota quarterback Tanner Morgan on the first two plays of the No. 8 Golden Gophers’ last-ditch drive and sophomore cornerback Riley Moss finished off the perfect season from the north with a stretching interception deep in the fourth quarter of the Hawkeyes’ 23-19 victory before 67,518 fans at Kinnick Stadium.

The Floyd of Rosedale bronze pig trophy is 98 pounds. It’s heavy for normal people and, yes, even some football players.

Wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette showed how he lifted and held the Pig. His arms are trembled. Smith-Marsette said Floyd takes two hands.

With the Gophers (9-1, 6-1) coming into Kinnick undefeated and with everything to play for, this Floyd always was going to take two hands.

“Make sure you see that picture, I held it out there like this,” Smith-Marsette said. “Every position group gets to take a picture and I held that pig like this, when everyone was around.”

Fullback Brady Ross won the race to the Pig, which went to the Hawkeyes for the fifth straight season. Offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs carried it off. The Pig is a heavy beast.

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“I think I kind of blacked out holding the pig, I was so tired,” Wirfs said. “I was like, ‘Move, move’ trying to get into the locker room. I did stop for a couple of selfies, though. Hopefully, someone sends me one.”

Selfie? How about you, Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz?

“No,” Ferentz said. “That would be kind of weird. I sure like looking at him, yeah. Sure like looking at him.”

And now the Hawkeyes get another year of the Pig.

Iowa’s first-half drive chart was as good as it gets. It took a lead on quarterback Nate Stanley’s 21-yard TD pass to wide receiver Nico Ragaini. Then, it was 13-0 after a 10-yard TD run by freshman running back Tyler Goodson.

“I got the ball and everything was clamped in, so I bounced outside,” Goodson said. “A guy comes, I give him a 1-2, stiff arm. Then, another guy comes in, and I give him a stiff arm and step out of the tackle. As I got to the goal line, I put my head down and hoped for the best.”

Minnesota answered with a 24-yard field goal. Iowa answered that with a six-play, 69-yard drive that Stanley finished with a 5-yard TD pass to Smith-Marsette.

“It just wasn’t us, it just wasn’t our night,” Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck said. “It’s hard to be able to say that because I hate that. I’m the man that always talks about fighting human nature. ... We just didn’t play our style of football.”

The Hawkeyes had a 20-6 lead with 6:20 left in the first half. The second half was Morgan throwing to the Gophers’ talented wide receiver corps. He finished 25 of 36 for 368 yards and a TD. Tyler Johnson caught nine passes for 170 yards and a TD.

Minnesota outgained Iowa, 431 yards to 290, but Iowa rolled up six sacks, including defensive end A.J. Epenesa’s 2.5.

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“We knew we were going to have to score points today,” Ferentz said. “No mirage, the points they’ve scored, yards they’ve had. We had tremendous respect and still do for their football team, offensive football team. Felt like we had to kind of lay it out there a little bit more.”

Last week at Wisconsin, the game ended with Stanley trying to convert a two-point conversion on a QB draw. This week, Stanley rushed for a first down on a third-and-2 to keep alive a drive that ended up in Keith Duncan’s 27-yard field goal and a 23-13 Iowa lead with 7:13 left in the game.

Ferentz said, “That’s football” and then he quoted the poet Robert Frost. He was an English major and Kinnick Stadium just did a field rush because the Hawkeyes ended Minnesota’s undefeated season.

“I did a little research on him. He had a good staying, too,” Ferentz said. “After 88 years of life, one observation. He said, ‘Life goes on.’

“Kind of like football. You never know what’s going to happen. What you do is you just keep pushing forward. Nate running the football tonight helped us certainly, him pulling it down. I think any time a quarterback will do that, do it wisely, it helps. That was a pretty slick move.”

Stanley finished 14 of 23 for 172 yards and two TDs. He fed the playmakers. Wide receiver Tyrone Tracy electrified again this week with six catches for 77 yards. Smith-Marsette finished with four for 43. Goodson started the game and finished with 94 yards on 13 carries.

It only felt like the only pass Stanley didn’t complete was a joke he told in the postgame about the move he threw on a Minnesota defender.

“My mom, definitely, my mom,” Stanley said when asked about the move that helped him gain 8 yards.

Can you elaborate on that?

“On what?” Stanley said.

On how your mom taught you that move?

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“I think just joking around a little bit,” Stanley said. “Just trying to have some fun.”

Everyone had fun and some of them have the selfies to prove it.

Comments: (319) 398-8256; marc.morehouse@thegazette.com

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