Despite Mohamed Ibrahim rushing for 263 yards, Iowa beat Minnesota in Minneapolis 13-10. It was the 8th consecutive win for Iowa in this head-to-head series and PJ Fleck has not yet beat the Hawkeyes in his career.
After battling back from a 10-0 deficit, the Gophers dominated the second half, rushing for 212 yards and having possession for over 18 minutes. But two 4th quarter turnovers while inside of Iowa territory doomed the Gophers in this loss.
Iowa jumped on the Gophers early, scoring on their first two possessions of the game and opening up a 10-0 lead. On their first play of the game, the Hawkeyes threw a screen to their All-Big Ten TE Sam LaPorta and the senior rumbled 58 yards to the Gopher 21. Four plays later, Iowa had to settle for a Drew Stevens 38-yard FG.
The Gophers quickly punted, giving the ball back to Iowa at their own 34. This time they marched down the field, converting a key 4th down play to LaPorta, eventually scoring on a Spencer Petras keeper and took a 10-0 lead.
It was 125 yards on their first two drives of the game and this was not the start needed for the Gophers who had not defeated Iowa since 2014 and were playing with a redshirt freshman at quarterback in 14-degree weather.
But this is when the Gophers slowly began to come back.
The next Gopher drive consumed 72 yards. Athan Kaliakmanis completed 3 passes on this drive for 54 yards and Ibrahim finished off the drive with a 5-yard touchdown. Their next possession also moved down the field but resulted in a missed 34-yard field goal by Matthew Trickett.
But on their first possession of the 3rd quarter, they went 76 yards, this time Trickett was good from 27 yards and the game was tied at 10-10.
The 4th quarter was all Minnesota in all facets except the scoreboard. Iowa run only 10 plays in the quarter and had the ball for 3:31. While the Gopher offensive line and Ibrahim were running the ball at will.
With 13:59 remaining in the game, the Gophers were pinned at their own 1 yardline. They ran 16 plays, 14 of them going to Ibrahim and drove to the Iowa 13. At this point it looked as if Minnesota was on the cusp of scoring and giving the ball back to Iowa with under 4 minutes. But on 3rd and 4 from the 13, Ibrahim fumbled, giving the ball back to Iowa.
The Gopher defense held, forcing a punt, giving the offense another chance to drive down for a game-winning score.
Once again the offense was moving the ball and was facing a 3rd and 7 from the Iowa 33. The call here was a pass that was intended for Lemeke Brockington that was broken up and intercepted. Iowa then hit on a 33-yard pass on first down to get deep into Gopher territory and eventually kicked the game-winning field goal from 21 yards.
A crushing loss for the Gophers, particularly on a night when Ibrahim was so good. But this is a very good Iowa defense that has been making big plays when necessary all season. They now control their own destiny to win the Big Ten West with a win next against Nebraska.
The Gophers head to Madison where they will attempt to keep Paul Bunyan’s Axe from the Badgers.