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Minnesota Football vs Iowa: Postgame Exit Survey

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Let’s get this over with

NCAA Football: Minnesota at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Well, the Minnesota Golden Gophers are no longer unbeaten, dropping their first game of the season to the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road. It sucks, but let’s talk about it and then move on.

What is your Tweet-length (280 characters or less) summary of the Gophers’ 23-19 loss to Iowa?

Ustreet: Minnesota played as poorly as possible on the road and still had a chance to win in the end.

gopherguy05: The first half Gophers looked a lot like the non-conference Gophers, and Iowa is much better than those three teams. That equals pain.

IowaGopher: This is my Hell.

mowe0018: I’m not exaggerating when I say this but a part of me died on Saturday evening around 6:10 p.m.

GoAUpher: Floyd-less haiku time:

First half was the worst

Second half was much better

Stupid Iowa

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Goddamnit.

GopherNation: When you put yourself in a three-touchdown hole, it is really hard to dig out of that hole, especially on the road. Iowa is good, winning at Kinnick Stadium is hard. We played well for the final three quarters and still had a chance to win this game. We are 9-1 and I’m not freaking out... Yet!

To borrow a Fleck-ism, who is your pick for “Nekton of the Week” from the game?

Ustreet: Tyler Johnson. When you become the second all-time touchdown catcher in Minnesota history, you get to be a Nekton.

gopherguy05: Tanner Morgan. He did about all he could, but his offensive line hung him out to dry too many times, including the last one that knocked him out of the game with a potential concussion. 25-of-36 for 368 passing yards and a touchdown is pretty good though.

IowaGopher: I’m inclined to go with Morgan, as well.

mowe0018: The Morgan-Johnson tandem was Nekton-ish. Except that one play...

GoAUpher: Gonna stick with my pick from Great Takes Less Filling and go with Morgan.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Yeah, Johnson. Sam Renner played pretty well too, but I’m sure everyone is too salty about the start.

GopherNation: Morgan is my Nekton. I’ll take a 70% completion percentage and 368 passing yards while also being sacked six times!

The Gophers drop from the ranks of the unbeaten, but they still control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. Are you not dwelling too much on this loss?

Ustreet: I’m not dwelling on this loss at all. The magic number is still 2 with two games to play.

gopherguy05: It hurt, but just like some of the big wins, you let it go after Saturday and get ready for the next two. You can’t completely overlook Northwestern, but the excitement of an epic battle for the Axe with a trip to Indy on the line and a probable College GameDay appearance is gonna be insane.

IowaGopher: I will be dwelling on this loss for much longer than I should.

mowe0018: I will dwell on this loss for a long time, especially once we win the next two games. I didn’t care about the playoff. I wanted 12-0 bad.

GoAUpher: I won’t dwell on it, but I won’t pretend it doesn’t sting. What I realized is that this season the Penn State game was likely the “biggest” game for the program on a national stage (unless the Wisconsin game gets College GameDay, then you could argue that one is as big or bigger exposure-wise). Despite that, the biggest games for us as fans remain the Iowa and Wisconsin games because of the rivalries. So while nothing will take away the joy of being at the Penn State win, the loss to Iowa stings more than it would if it were against a Top 20 team we don’t hate.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: We got Ferentz’d. I’m already done dwelling on that game.

GopherNation: Not remotely dwelling on this one. It was a rival and one we all desperately wanted to win. I’d rather have beat Iowa and lost to Penn State, but it is 1-1 regardless and when we beat Wisconsin this one will sting much less.

Between special teams miscues to lack of execution in the red zone, Minnesota had problems everywhere. What specifically do you think was the difference in this game for the Gophers?

Ustreet: The defensive game plan to open the game. Iowa picked up 20 quick points because defensive coordinator Joe Rossi refused to pressure Nate Stanley.

gopherguy05: Besides the defense getting torched to start the game? The play of the offensive line. Whatever the Gophers did to slow down one of the best defensive lines in the country against Penn State most definitely did not work against Iowa.

IowaGopher: Red zone execution. Iowa, who normally settles for field goals, scored touchdowns. Minnesota, who normally scores touchdowns, settled for field goals.

mowe0018: Whether it be drops or poor play calling, red zone execution was the issue as IowaGopher mentions. We outgained Iowa by 140 yards. The reason we didn’t win 35-24 is we fell away from the tried and true from the rest of the season in the red zone.

GoAUpher: Going into the hole 20-3 feels like the biggest problem to me. As talented as this team is offensively, we’re not a team built on playing fast. Which means the number of possessions we see is limited and needing to make up a gap like that is a not a small hill to climb. Even with that, the Gophers should have been tied 20-20 if Johnson catches that pass in the red zone. Argh. Still annoyed.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: They scripted the shit out of us. Their first so many plays were just perfect to attack some issues before we could adjust and we couldn’t get out of the hole.

GopherNation: It was just that first quarter when the defense was just on its heels while the offense could move the ball before stalling.

Following one of the biggest wins in program history with an ugly loss to Iowa feels like classic Minnesota. How do you avoid being cynical after dropping a game like this?

Ustreet: Every time we do one of these surveys, I am asked to expand my answers beyond a sentence. I usually decline. Today feels like a time to break with tradition.

To paraphrase Bane, most Gopher fans merely adopted the dark. I was born into it. My family has had season tickets since before several states entered the Union. I have been a Minnesota fan for longer than Berlin has been unified. Since I have (quite literally) walked this earth, I have been going to games. I have been at just about every “important” game Minnesota has played in the last 30 years. For most of those, the result was losing catastrophically.

I provide that backstory to emphasize the following. At no point during the time I have been a football fan has Minnesota controlled its own destiny to win the conference at the end of the season. My mother can barely remember the last time Minnesota controlled its own destiny to win the conference with three games to play. (Three games? Yes, the Big Ten Championship is game number 3). My grandmother only saw Minnesota win 10 games once in her lifetime, a feat the team will accomplish on Saturday.

No part of this season is classic Minnesota. Classic Minnesota would have been losing to South Dakota State. Classic Minnesota would have been throwing in the towel when Iowa made it 20-3, and the game would have finished something like 43-3. I know, because I have been in the stands when Minnesota has done just that. Many times. Many many times.

The better team lost Saturday because Iowa made plays when needed, and Minnesota did not. Tyler Johnson had a wild game Saturday but dropped the ball on a slant route that would have tied the game up. Brock Walker missed an extra point and field goal that he should never have kicked. Even with those and other unforced errors, the Gophers had the ball with the chance to win at the end. The former is classic Minnesota, the latter certainly not.

The Gophers are no longer undefeated, a statement usually true by week four. What is the effect on the season? With two games left, Minnesota has a magic number of two to win the division. I would have preferred the magic number to be one, but I am perfectly happy to watch Minnesota win the Axe for the division.

Cynicism is boring. Play the Battle Hymn and get hyped to watch the Gophers beat Northwestern.

gopherguy05: Not even going to try and answer this myself. Just gonna do this:

IowaGopher: Re-read what Ustreet said. I maintain that good things happen when he gives more than one sentence (or one word) answers.

mowe0018: I’m not cynical about what happened because we SHOULD have won the game. I’m waiting for some of the advanced stats to come out but based on a per play basis, I’m pretty sure Minnesota was the better team, especially outside of the disastrous first quarter. So I’m not cynical coming out of this game, merely ticked off we lost a game we should have won.

GoAUpher: Ustreet da gawd.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: My youngest asked me if we won after the game, and I said no. She stopped for a second and then said that we’ll win the next one. I trust a six-year old more than I’ll trust anyone else who’s been broken by this team in the past.

GopherNation: Way to take away the roundtable aspect of this Ustreet but... What he said. I’ll add that “classic Minnesota” was 2008 Gophers that started 7-1 only to get hail mary’d by Northwestern, nearly beat Wisconsin, and got rolled 55-0 by Iowa. That was “classic Minnesota.” Losing to a 7-3 Iowa team at Kinnick by four points is not that big of a deal. It was a loss and this talented team moves on.

Do you still like the Gophers’ chances of winning the West in two weeks with a win over Wisconsin?

Ustreet: Yes.

gopherguy05: It won’t be easy, but if Minnesota plays up to their potential, and with the game at TCF Bank Stadium, yes I do like it. Stop Jonathan Taylor and make Jack Coan beat you.

IowaGopher: No, I think the Gophers finish 10-2 and lose to Wisconsin in the regular season finale, which will somehow make this season simultaneously feel like a huge accomplishment and somewhat of a disappointment.

mowe0018: Absolutely. Wisconsin is secretly trash and Northwestern is not so secretly trash.

GoAUpher: Yes. We’re rowing a boat through Badger tears all the way to Indy.

WhiteSpeedReceiver: Yes.

GopherNation: I was really hoping to have the West wrapped up before Wisconsin, but I’m still feeling good about winning the West. Beating the Badgers at home is very doable.