Iowa Football

Iowa football's most-interesting 2019 games: No. 8 Minnesota

The last time Hawkeyes played on a Nov. 16 will forever live in Iowa lore

Iowa defensive back Jovon Johnson bites on a rose after the Hawkeyes defeated Minnesota, 45-21, on Nov. 16, 2002 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis to clinch the Big Ten title. Johnson still is playing football, for Saskatchewan of the Canadian League. (The Gazette)
Iowa defensive back Jovon Johnson bites on a rose after the Hawkeyes defeated Minnesota, 45-21, on Nov. 16, 2002 at the Metrodome in Minneapolis to clinch the Big Ten title. Johnson still is playing football, for Saskatchewan of the Canadian League. (The Gazette)

Minnesota plays football at Iowa on Nov. 16.

That statement in itself means zippo to you Hawkeye fans other than the fact Minnesota plays football at Iowa on Nov. 16.

But let’s have some fun with the date. The last time the Hawkeyes played on a Nov. 16 was 2002. The opponent was Minnesota. You of the Hawkeye ilk may recall it. It clinched an unbeaten Big Ten season and share of the league championship for Iowa.

It was kind of a big deal.

So big, in fact, that Hawkeye fans ripped down the goal posts of the now-gone Metrodome, and actually tried to get them through a revolving door. That plan was a bit ill-conceived, but the fervor and fun made it one of those all-time moments in a program’s history. The Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission billed Iowa $5,000 for the goal post.

The next time an Iowa fan takes umbrage at a Gopher fan about anything, remember that afternoon in Minneapolis.

I remember Kirk Ferentz holding a rose on the field afterward. Defensive lineman Colin Cole, among others, threw roses to the fans. Then I remember the Rose Bowl being pulled from under the Hawkeyes’ feet because of the BCS, and Iowa landed in the Orange Bowl. Which was fine by me, even though the Rose Bowl is the only real bowl game.

Which brings us to my pick for the eighth-most interesting game on Iowa’s schedule this fall:

Nov. 16: Minnesota in Kinnick Stadium

Actually, it doesn’t bring us to that. I want to talk some more about Nov. 16.

When Iowa plays on a Nov. 16, it has a good-to-great season. That’s been the case for the last 34 years, anyway. Here are the Hawkeyes’ last four Nov. 16 games:

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1985 — Won at Purdue, 27-24. Won the Big Ten title, went 10-2 overall and went to the Rose Bowl.

1991 — Won at Northwestern, 24-10. Went 10-1-1, tied BYU in the Holiday Bowl.

1996 — Beat Wisconsin in Kinnick, 31-0. Went 9-3, beat Texas Tech 27-0 in the Alamo Bowl.

2002 — The aforementioned win at Minnesota. Went 11-2 and played in the Orange Bowl.

No way am I about to do the research, but I’ll be there hasn’t been a better calendar date than Nov. 16 for Hawkeyes football in the Hayden Fry/Kirk Ferentz 40 years.

This year’s Minnesota-Iowa game doesn’t grab me, but maybe it will. The Gophers looked flimsy when Iowa beat them 48-31 in Minneapolis in Game 5, but P.J. Fleck’s men rocked Purdue 41-10 at home in Game 10, then rolled over Wisconsin 37-15 at Madison in the regular-season finale. The Gophers were double-digit underdogs in both games.

Minnesota suddenly and surprisingly found itself bowl-eligible, and went to Detroit and battered Georgia Tech in the Quick Lane Bowl, 34-10. That was quite a flourish at the end of a season that had once seemed dreary and included a 42-13 loss at Maryland and a 53-28 defeat at Nebraska.

Then you look at Minnesota’s 2019 slate, and I don’t see a game it can’t win in its first nine before it arrives in Iowa City. That’s not a prediction of 9-0. Or 8-1. Or 7-2. But there’s no game at Michigan or at Ohio State or at anyone overwhelming.

Wouldn’t it be wacky-wack if Fleck brought a 9-0 team to Kinnick, though? Or 8-1. Or 7-2.

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It would take winning at Fresno State and Purdue. It would take beating Nebraska and Maryland and Penn State at home. Hard. Not impossible.

The three-week closing kick that starts in Kinnick goes to Northwestern the following Saturday, then ends at home against Wisconsin. If Minnesota wins all three of those, the Gophers will have rowed their boat to a place that program hasn’t gone since Minnesotan Bob Dylan was a teenager.

But let’s get back to Nov. 16.

I was born on a Nov. 16. I won’t say which year, but here’s a clue: It was the season in between Rose Bowl appearances for the Hawkeyes. Those happened to be the only two Rose Bowls Iowa has ever won.

Iowa lost on that Nov. 16, at Ohio State by the score of 17-13. That was the Hawkeyes’ only defeat of the year and their first loss in 12 games.

That’s right. The day I was born was the only day that season in which Iowa lost. You want to make something of it, tough guy?

All right, the year was 1957. I strongly hope to see the Nov. 16 of 2019. But not because it’s the day of a Minnesota-Iowa football game. Been there, done that, seen a chunk of goal post not fit through a revolving door.

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