Iowa dominated the line of scrimmage, executed an early offensive gameplan flawlessly and Minnesota hurt themselves with costly mistakes throughout to earn this loss on the road to their southern rival.
For all the talk throughout the week about Iowa’s offense being pedestrian and a weakness for this team, the Iowa offense that took the field to start today’s game was elite. The Gopher defense, was not.
From the opening possession, Iowa dominated the first quarter. The final three were not so impressive, but it was enough.
The Hawkeyes scored three touchdowns on their first three possessions. And they moved down the field with ease, the Gopher defense never putting up much any resistance. It was easy for the Iowa offense. 26 plays in their first three possessions for 212 yards and 20 points (missed PAT).
The Minnesota offense, on the other hand, was able to move the ball but unable to get into the end zone on their first three possessions. Their first possession was 12 plays and 47 yards and ended in a missed Brock Walker field goal. The second possession was also 12 plays, 87 yards and was a successful field goal. The next, now trailing 20-3 drove to the Iowa 25 (42 yards on 9 plays) before an 8-yard sack pushed the Gophers back and forced a punt.
That punt was downed at the Iowa 2 and the Gopher defense got it’s first stop of the game, forcing Iowa to punt from their own 11.
Once again the Gopher offense was able to move the ball, but unable to find the end zone. With only 39 seconds before half, Tanner Morgan got the Gophers down to the Iowa 6. After a pass interference penalty put the ball on the 2, Minnesota opted to kick the FG with only 4 seconds left. Making the game 20-6 at the half.
The third quarter was controlled by Minnesota and the Gophers came within a play of tying the game. Getting the ball to start the half, they went 66 yards in 6 plays to score on a Tanner Morgan to Tyler Johnson pass. The 28-yard strike brought the game to within a touchdown.
The Gopher defense comes out more aggressive and forces an Iowa punt.
Once again the Gopher offense moves the ball deep into Iowa territory. This time driving to the Iowa 14 where Iowa puts Minnesota into a 4th and 4 situation. PJ Fleck decides to go for it. Tyler Johnson runs a slant and is wide open. Morgan hits Johnson on the numbers for would be a game-tying touchdown but the ball is dropped. What appeared to tie the game, a game where Minnesota was outplayed for much of it, resulted in a turnover on downs. Iowa ball, with a touchdown lead.
Things did get interesting in the 4th quarter after Iowa scored a FG, their only second half points, to push the lead back to 10. The Gophers took their next possession 75 yards to score a Seth Green touchdown. A missed PAT kept the lead at 4 for Iowa with 3:46 remaining.
It remained interesting after Iowa recovered the onside kick and Minnesota forced a three and out. Now Minnesota gets the ball back at the 25, down 4 and 1:52 to get into the end zone.
This is where the interest ended. Morgan was sacked on first down, sacked on second down and was then injured. True freshman Cole Kramer comes in to throw an incomplete pass on third down and was intercepted on a deep pass on forth down.
Iowa assumed the victory formation to close out the game, take Floyd back into their locker room and Iowa fans stormed the field.
A game where Minnesota was truly awful for the first quarter and just couldn’t do enough to climb out of that hole. Iowa controlled things, won the line of scrimmage and made far fewer mistakes.
The undefeated season ends for the Gophers but the season continues on. Minnesota controls their own destiny for the Big Ten West and it will likely be decided in two weeks when Wisconsin comes to TCF Bank Stadium. But first, a trip to 2-8 Northwestern next Saturday.