A pathetic offensive performance sunk the Minnesota Golden Gophers and sent the Floyd of Rosedale back to Iowa City with a 14-7 loss to the Iowa Hawkeyes at TCF Bank Stadium. The game-winning touchdown was courtesy of a 54-yard touchdown run by running back Akrum Wadley late in the fourth quarter, followed by a two-point conversion run by LeShun Daniels.
The story of the game was a Gopher defense that played lights out almost all game long, but was constantly on the field because of an inept offense. The Gophers turned the ball over three times -- while also forcing three turnovers — and consistently lost the field position battle with repeated three and outs.
The first half was a struggle on offense for the Gophers, but the Hawkeyes didn’t fare much better with the football, taking a 3-0 lead into halftime. The Minnesota passing game was anemic — with a Mitch Leidner interception killing their best drive before the half — and neither Shannon Brooks nor Rodney Smith carried the ball much, to the confusion of Gopher fans both in the stands and watching from home.
The second half was a marginal improvement. The Hawkeyes marched down the field on the opening drive and extended their lead to 6-0 with another field goal after a red zone stop by the Gopher defense. But the Gopher offense finally came to life by handing the ball repeatedly to Shannon Brooks, who would score from nine yards out to help Minnesota take a 7-6 lead over Iowa in the third quarter.
The Gophers had chances to take the momentum with a forced fumble by Nick Rallis and an interception by Kamal Martin -- both with Iowa driving into Minnesota territory — but the offense continued to do nothing against a porous Hawkeye defense. The passing game, in particular, was victimized by bad throws from Leidner, bad drops by the receivers, and poor pass protection from the offensive line.
But another three and out after the Martin interception left the Gopher defense hanging, and led to the game-winning touchdown run from Wadley. Leidner and the receiving corps led a legitimately impressive drive in the final minutes to take the Gophers into the red zone, but came up with nothing.
It’s clear that the Gophers are not a good football team, and another loss leaves the future of Tracy Claeys in doubt. If the Gophers fielded even an average offense, they win this football game. That did not happen. Not even close.
It’s going to be a long season in Minneapolis.