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Iowa Beats Gophers 14-7 to Retain Floyd of Rosedale

NCAA Football: Iowa at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The 110th meeting between the Golden Gophers and the Hawkeyes was never pretty but the Iowa Hawkeyes were able to scratch, claw and make just enough plays to take home Floyd of Rosedale with a 14-7 win over the Golden Gophers.

The play of the game and game-winner came early in the 4th quarter. Iowa took over on their own 46 trailing the Gophers 6-7. Akrum Wadley, the junior and back-up running back, got the handoff off-tackle left and sprinted untouched for a 54-yard touchdown. Iowa went for 2, got it and took the 14-7 lead.

The first half was utterly ugly with both teams combining for 238 yards, 3 turnovers, 6 penalties, 5 of 15 on third down and just three points. Those three belonged to Iowa as they lead 3-0 at the break.

The third quarter saw a burst of points to open the half. Iowa began with the ball, drove down to have first and 10 from the Minnesota 13. But the Gopher defense held firm and forced a FG that gave Iowa a 6-0 lead. Then Gopher offense woke up for this next drive. Rodney Smith returned the kickoff to the 42 and from there the offense worked their way down to the Iowa 9. On 1st and goal from the 9 Shannon Brooks took it to the edge and sprinted in for the game’s first touchdown and a 6-7 Gopher lead. It was an 8-play, 58 yard drive and this was the lone positive for the Gopher offense today.

The only other score of the game was the Wadley touchdown. The Gophers made it interesting in the end, driving down to the Iowa 13 with under a minute to play, but couldn’t complete a pass at that point, turned the ball over on downs and Iowa assumed the victory formation to seal it and take Floyd back to Iowa City.

This game was a failure in all phases. The offense was inept partially due to poor execution, poor quarterback play and really bad play-calling. The defense was solid for much of the game but gave up too may big plays at just the wrong times, this has been a recurring theme. Special teams played poorly as well, with some bad punts and poor kickoff coverage. Iowa was clearly the better team today but Minnesota did it’s best to not uitilize their strengths (Shannon Brooks please) and the defense continued to miss tackles while giving up back-breaking plays.

Let’s go into a little more detail on the failures of the Gopher offense today. In my opnion, this is really where the game was lost. The defense only gave up 14 points, forced 3 turnovers. This typically should be good enough. Two big run plays lead directly to 10 points, but this was not the primary reason we lost this afternoon. And it seems like this is how Coach Claeys felt as well.

To start things off, Mitch Leidner was not good today. He made poor decisions all day which lead to completing just 13 of 33 passes with 2 picks and just 166 yards passing. This was possibly his worst day as a Gopher QB, at least since the Ohio State game two years ago. His receivers were also bad. A few really bad dropped balls, struggling to get open and it all contributed to a horrendous day of passing the ball.

But this is where things get really frustrating. When the passing game is struggling and you are facing a defense that struggles to stop the run (11th in the Big Ten coming into the week) AND you have two running backs who are averaging 4+ yards per carry...why don’t you run the ball? Especially on first down. Even if Iowa knows it is coming, run the ball. Yet we refused, and that is on the coaching staff.

In the 4th quarter the Gophers held the lead and had 3 possessions. This is when we should be able to do what we do best...RUN THE BALL. But this was their play selection...

  • Rodney Smith - 1 carry
  • Shannon Brooks - 1 carry (5 yards)
  • Leidner had 1 carry
  • 6 passes called

Those three possessions netted exactly zero first downs and 15 yards (20 gained, -5 for penalty). After that the clock was no longer on our side and we trailed by a touchdown so it was 100% passing, and at this point you are going to see more passes than anything else.

Run the ball, this is what we do and supposedly do well with a couple of backs who are pretty good. I generally trust Mitch. But particularly when he is struggling and Shannon Brooks is actually playing rather well, give him the ball. Tracy Claeys addressed our lack of running a little bit in his post-game press conference.

We did, but Brooks was averating 5.5 yards per carry and Rodney Smith averaged 4.0 on their 21 combined carries. We weren’t conrolling the line of scrimmage, but those guys were gaining yards when they had the chance. They just didn’t get nearly the chances needed, in my opinion.

But this was a single game that was a truly ugly loss. Neither team played very well, Iowa was better. Enjoy the next couple days, let’s get our frustrations out and then up next is a trip to Maryland for the Gophers.