MINNEAPOLIS — With 19 seconds left and things long since decided, Minnesota took a timeout with the ball at the Iowa 4.
Play began to resume, only to have Iowa counter with a timeout of its own. Then another and another.
Clearly a bit of gamesmanship ... on both sides.
“No sense taking them on the bus with us,” Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said. “I think you guys have reminded me of that a couple of times over the last 22 years. Figured we’d take Floyd home with us and leave the timeouts here.”
Yeah, Floyd of Rosedale. He’s headed back to Iowa City for a sixth straight year after Iowa’s 35-7 win Friday night at TCF Bank Stadium.
It’s the sixth win in a row over their neighbor to the north, the longest such streak for the Hawkeyes in the 86 years these schools have been playing for the treasured bronze swine trophy. Iowa has won 16 of the last 20 in this rivarly, and Gophers Coach P.J. Fleck still hasn’t beaten the Hawkeyes, the only West Division team he is winless against.
Apparently Iowa revels in that a bit because there appears to be some heat between these coaching staffs and programs. Hey, it IS a rivalry, right?
Iowa didn’t like Fleck’s timeout with Minnesota’s starters in against Iowa’s reserves in a 35-0 game. The Gophers ended up getting a touchdown to end the shutout bid.
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“I think they were playing games, honestly,” Iowa’s Tyler Goodson said. “At the same time, I was ready to come to the locker room because it was getting pretty cold out there on the sidelines.”
At the halfway point of this convoluted COVID-19 season, Iowa is 2-2. The Hawkeyes aren’t exactly in the thick of the Big Ten West race, but they’re certainly not out of it like Minnesota (1-3) appears to be.
So there’s that. There’s just a lot to like about the response after those two close losses to Northwestern and Purdue to start the season. More than a few folks wondered if things would completely go off the rails, but this group has, well, regrouped and seems to be playing at a pretty high level.
“We’re really finding out who we are as a team,” said Goodson, he of the 142 yards rushing, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion run. ”We’re starting to play collectively, hitting on all cylinders. I think from now on it’s all about taking baby steps, progressing each and every day to become better, so we can win more games in the future.”
“Just extremely proud of our football team, our players, the way they competed,” Ferentz said. “The way they are really growing as a football team right now.”
Offensively it has become a very runny situation for the Hawkeyes. Goodson outshined Minnesota’s Mohamed Ibrahim, the Big Ten’s leading rusher, part of a 235-yard rushing performance for Iowa, which imposed its will up front against a Gophers defense that simply isn’t very good.
“I just think we’ve got a lot of guys putting vertical pressure on the D-linemen, getting after it,” said Iowa center Tyler Linderbaum. “We’ve got good takeoff going, getting good push on the line. We’ve got great backs who can read and hit the seams.”
“The opportunity we needed to take advantage of was to run the stretch play, and the stretch play worked out really well for us,” Goodson said. “The guys up front did a fantastic job of getting to their blocks ... allowed us to get through the holes we needed to be successful in the run game.”
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Iowa had a 14-0 halftime lead and seemed to be in total control. Minnesota then went on a 17-play, Ibrahim-headed drive on its first second-half possession that took it from its 5 to the Iowa 20.
But the Hawkeyes held from there, and Jack Koerner got his fingertips on an attempted field-goal attempt that came up short. Despite 10:56 of possession time and eating up virtually the entire third quarter, Minnesota came up with nothing.
Goodson then burst over the middle for 45 yards, Spencer Petras eventually connected with the reinstated Ihmir Smith-Marsette for a 7-yard touchdown pass, and that was that.
A Riley Moss interception deep in Iowa territory and long return set up a Goodson TD run. Koerner also had a pick, the 11th
consecutive game the Hawkeyes have had an interception.
“We’re always trying to get takeaways,” Koerner said. “We have our defensive goals every week of getting three takeaways, whether that’s interceptions or fumbles. That’s one of the goals every week. Definitely a point of emphasis. We’ve been doing a good job.”
“Defensively the coaches had a great (plan) for this week,” said Iowa defensive end Chauncey Golston. “We just went out there all week practicing hard and trying to get better.”
Getting better is definitely something these Hawkeyes have done.
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