A-minus -- Penalties still a problem, but not much else to complain about in this one.
-- Michael Bonner
7 – Touchdowns scored by Mark Weisman. No other Hawkeye has more than one.
6 – Consecutive trophy games Iowa lost before Saturday’s win.
5 – Consecutive years Iowa returned an interception for a touchdown.
35 – Yards gained on punt returns for Micah Hyde, who entered the game with 33.
33 – Rushing yards for Gophers running back Donnel Kirkwood who gained 221 in his last two games.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
They weren’t replacement officials, but they certainly needed a lot of help form the review booth on Saturday. Iowa and Minnesota saw four plays reviewed with two overturned. The most consequential was a Tanner Miller interception that brought back memories of a Monday Night Hail Mary.
“Oh yeah, thankfully we have the right refs out there,” Miller said. “They did a great job. It was a big play in the game.”
The officials’ ruled Miller caught the ball but landed out of bounds. The replay showed Miller’s backside landed in bounds as well as his foot, allowing Iowa to take over.
Miller was involved in another review a few plays later when he blocked a Minnesota player into the ball on a punt return. Iowa recovered but the referees ruled the ball didn’t make contact with the player. After the review, the ball made contact with the Gophers’ player but only after Miller blocked him into it, which is illegal.
“I didn’t know the rule that you couldn’t push somebody into the football,” Miller said. “I was just trying to make a play.”
The third review upheld a Minnesota incomplete pass. The fourth took an one yard Mark Weisman touchdown off the board, but James Vandenberg sneaked ahead for the score on the next play.
Mark Weisman did his best to avoid a Ray Finkle-like wrath of James Vandenberg. The perfectly executed flea flicker began at the hands of Weisman, who isn’t the best flicker.
“He calls it and I know, I’ve got to get him a good pitch. Get him the laces if I can,” Weisman said. “Sometimes on that, I can, I can’t. Today he was surprised that I got it to him.”
“He’s totally pulling stuff out of his butt. Every time we did it in practice he’d throw these knuckle balls. And I’d always say, ‘Mark throw me the laces.’ Completely joking around,” Vandenberg said. “Today it happened to be I caught it right on the laces. And that was the first thing I told him on the sidelines.”
They arrived at the sideline after a 47 yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cotton. It was the first of his career. Ironically Cotton’s first career reception came last year against Minnesota.
It put the Hawkeyes up 17-0, erupted a fan base into euphoria and quieted the “predictable offense” nay-sayers.
“Coach (Greg) Davis said, ‘We run this once or twice year for the alumni. This is something you keep in your playbook and you run it.’ When he said that I laughed so loud, thinking the exact same thing that I hear all the time. ‘Oh you’re gonna run it. You’re gonna pass it,’” Vandenberg said tongue in cheek. “So it’s a great play to have it’s a great change up and it gave us a touchdown.
A WORK HORSE
With time winding down in the first quarter Greg Garmon took the handoff from James Vandenberg and carried the ball for three yards. It pushed the ball to the Minnesota 11 yard line and two plays later Mark Weisman scored the game’s first touchdown.
The carry also ended a string of 58 consecutive carries for Weisman. The last time a back not named Weisman carried the ball was Garmon toward the end of the second quarter against Northern Iowa. Garmon dislocated his elbow on the play and the legend of Weisman emerged.
“It’s kind of cool, but I don’t think of it like that,” Weisman said. “All of our running backs have the capability of running the ball, whether it’s me, Garmon, Damon (Bullock) when he gets back. It’s the offensive line. That’s who’s doing all the work.”
KEEPIN' HIM CLEAN
Minnesota came into Kinnick Stadium with the top sack artist in the Big Ten. D.L. Wilhite led the conference with 4.5 sacks. His partner in crime, Ra’Shede Hageman had 3.0.
The duo left Kinnick with the same amount.
“That was huge. That was a big part of the running game. We were able to wear them down,” “They’re really a good, hard team to play against when you get in third in long because they have a lot of guys in the back end and a lot of guys up front that make things tough. But we did a pretty good job of staying in with our run game and staying ahead of the chains.”
The only time the Gophers got close to Vandenberg came in the third quarter on a Alex Keith roughing the passer penalty.
On paper the second quarter looked to be the pivotal period for Iowa. It was Minnesota’s best quarter outscoring opponents 35-7 on the year. For the Hawkeyes, they struggled in the second with a 29-13 disadvantage – the worst of any quarter.
Saturday the roles reversed. Iowa put on 21 points to role into halftime up 24-0.
“I feel everyone felt really confident about this game. We really wanted to get after it and start fast,” wide receiver Keenan Davis said. “And we did.”
Iowa kept its streak alive scoring on its opening drive. The Hawkeyes took the opening kick and drove 49 yards to set up the game's first score - a 44 yard Mike Meyer field goal.
While the offense continued its streak, the defense snapped one of its own. For the first time in three games Iowa's opponents' first drive ended in a punt. Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Central Michigan all scored touchdowns the first time their offense touched the ball.
The Hawkeyes had been slow starters this season. Opponents outscored Iowa 55-40 in the first half this season. At the half it held a 24-0 advantage.
"I think as a team effort, this is absolutely the best we've played this year," James Vandenberg said.
Iowa had three inactives against Minnesota. Defensive back B.J. Lowery and offensive lineman Austin Blythe both sat out with foot injuries, but could have played if they had to. Running back Damon Bullock remained sidelined with a concussion. He has yet to be cleared by the team’s medical staff.
ON TO THE NEXT ONE
Next week is Iowa’s bye week before they head to East Lansing for its first true road game against Michigan State.The Hawkeyes hold a 22-19-2 record against the Spartans since the first match-up in 1953. Michigan State is one of two teams Iowa owns a winning record against, the other being Northwestern.