Big Ten football is back, but we are forging ahead with our quest to build a perfect season of Minnesota Golden Gophers football over 13 weeks, inviting readers to choose from three nominees for each week of the season dating back to 2000. For example, with this being Week 12, I have selected the three “best” — and the specific criteria for “best” is going to vary week to week, depending on what I have to work with — Week 12 games from the last 20 seasons.
Our selections so far:
Week 1: ‘16 vs Oregon State
Week 2: ‘19 vs Fresno State
Week 3: ‘19 vs Georgia Southern
Week 4: ‘05 vs Purdue
Week 5: ‘14 vs Michigan
Week 6 (Bye Week): ‘05 vs Michigan
Week 7: ‘00 vs Ohio State
Week 8: ‘14 vs Purdue
Week 9: ‘13 vs Nebraska
Week 10: ‘13 vs Indiana
Week 11: ‘19 vs Penn State
And here are our nominees for Week 12.
Nominee #1: ‘00 vs Iowa
In Kirk Ferentz’s second season at the helm in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes finished 3-9 and ended their season in Minneapolis with a 27-24 loss to the Gophers. Minnesota was 5-6 coming into the game, needing one more win to be bowl-eligible in the fourth year under Glen Mason.
Minnesota closed out the first quarter with a 3-0 lead thanks to a 29-yard field goal from Dan Nystrom, but Iowa responded a few minutes into the second quarter with a touchdown pass from Kyle McMann to Chris Oliver for a 7-3 lead. The two teams exchanged field goals before halftime, affording the Hawkeyes a 10-6 heading into the locker room.
Iowa running back Ladell Betts sprung free for a 65-yard touchdown early out of the break to extend their lead to 17-6. The Gophers finally found the end zone on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Travis Cole to Ron Johnson, failing to convert a two-point attempt. But the Hawkeyes responded yet again, scoring on another Betts run to lead 24-12 with 12:28 left in regulation.
Cole pulled the Gophers within five points on another touchdown pass to Ron Johnson. The Minnesota defense forced Iowa to punt on the ensuing drive, and Cole then connected with Jermaine Mays for an 81-yard go-ahead touchdown pass on the very first play.
Nominee #2: ‘06 vs Iowa
Six years later, again needing a victory to secure a trip to a bowl game, Glen Mason’s Gophers hosted a 6-5 Iowa squad that had started the season ranked No. 16 and ascended as high as No. 13 before losing five of their next seven games heading into the Minnesota game.
The Gophers opened up a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter on a nine-yard touchdown run by Amir Pinnix (the PAT failed), but the Hawkeyes managed to pull ahead on a 50-yard touchdown pass from Drew Tate to Andy Brodell. In the second quarter, Jay Thomas scored to give Minnesota 13-6 that only lasted until Iowa running back Albert Young found paydirt. Trailing 14-13, Bryan Cupito went deep to Ernie Wheelwright for a 64-yard touchdown and a 20-14 lead. The Hawkeyes were able to add a field goal before halftime, cutting the score to 20-17.
The Gophers took control in the second half, shutting down the Iowa offense and extending their lead to 27-17 on a Cupito touchdown pass to Matt Spaeth. In the fourth quarter, Pinnix added another rushing touchdown, giving Minnesota a 34-17 lead. The Hawkeyes managed to score again with another Tate touchdown pass for a final score of 34-24.
Nominee #3: ‘10 vs Iowa
The No. 24-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes rolled into TCF Bank Stadium boasting the country’s sixth-ranked rushing defense and facing a 2-9 Minnesota team with an interim head coach, Jeff Horton.
On the opening drive, the Gophers marched down to the Iowa 9 before failing to convert on 3rd & Goal and settling for a 26-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead. But then the Gophers surprised Iowa with an onside kick and Minnesota kicker Eric Ellestad recovered it to give the offense a chance to extend their lead. And that is exactly what they did, courtesy of an 11-yard touchdown run by MarQueis Gray that gave Minnesota a 10-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Hawkeyes opened the second quarter with a scoring drive of their own, cutting the deficit to 10-7 with a Ricky Stanzi touchdown pass to Derrell Johnson-Koulianos. Minnesota went back to work against Iowa’s vaunted rushing defense, regaining their 10-point lead with a DeLeon Eskridge touchdown run. Unfortunately it did not last long, as Johnson-Koulianos took the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. After trading field goals, the two teams headed into their locker rooms at halftime with the Gophers clinging to a 20-17 lead.
Neither team scored in the third quarter, and Iowa finally broke the scoring drought with an 18-yard go-ahead touchdown pass to Marvin McNutt with 11:35 left in the fourth quarter. Trailing 24-20, Minnesota quarterback Adam Weber led the Gophers on a six-play, 77-yard touchdown drive, sparked by a 40-yard completion to Da’Jon McKnight. Duane Bennett punched in the go-ahead score on 1st & Goal at the Iowa 6 for a 27-24 lead. On the first play of the next drive, Troy Stoudermire forced Iowa running back Marcus Coker to fumble, and Minnesota’s Ryan Collado recovered to allow the Gophers to run out the clock and re-claim Floyd.
Those are your nominees, whether you like them or not. Make your pick below and we’ll declare a Week 12 winner next week when we announce the nominees for Week 13!
Which Week 12 game is your pick for the 2020 Perfect Season?
This poll is closed
‘00 vs Iowa
‘06 vs Iowa
‘10 vs Iowa