In a game of wills, Minnesota ended up with the bruises.
Iowa imposed its will throughout the game, running for 246 yards and holding the Gophers to 30 yards rushing. That’s 252 yards fewer than Minnesota averaged through the first four games.
“From what I noticed during the game, we couldn’t move Iowa,” Minnesota Coach Jerry Kill said. “They’d slide off a block and make a play. They handled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball better than we did.”
Iowa was the most physical team and overpowered Minnesota in every phase. It imposed its will and won its fourth straight game.
“I thought we played physical up front and the second-level guys, guys that were second and third to the ball, did a good job of just gang-tackling and just playing sound,” Iowa linebacker James Morris said.
BY THE NUMBERS
100 – Consecutive extra-points by kicker Mike Meyer
4 – Sacks by Iowa’s defense, two more than Hawkeyes’ total entering the game
4 – Wins by Iowa, matching the Hawkeyes’ 2012 victory total
30 – Rushing yards by Minnesota
246 – Rushing yards by Iowa
A-minus — Might as well have interviewed their shoulder pads. They said everything that needed saying.
– Marc Morehouse
A — A day at the beach in Minnesota? Yep, with sand kicked in the Gophers’ faces.
– Mike Hlas
A-minus — Carl Spackler wants his dynamite back. Iowa found a more effective way of getting rid of Gophers.
– Scott Dochterman
Iowa linebacker James Morris recorded eight tackles, including one sack, and had a late-game interception to preserve Iowa’s win. He spearheaded a defense that recorded four sacks — two more than the team had in its first four games — kept Minnesota off the field for 60 percent of the game, limited its third-down conversions to 4-of-13 and held the Gophers to 165 total yards.
“I would certainly argue that it was a game where I probably ran less than I have in the past, but it just so happened to be that their plays were more often between the hashes and that’s traditionally where I am,” Morris said.
Iowa running back Mark Weisman rushed for 147 yards on 24 carries, his fourth 100-yard outing this season and eighth of his career. It’s also the second consecutive season Weisman has gashed the Gophers. Last year he ran for 177 yards.
“We’re a physical football team, and we like to show it,” Weisman said. “If it’s working, we’re going to continue to do it.
“I thought the offensive line did a great job of controlling the trenches.”
Iowa rushed for 246 yards. Damon Bullock added 50, while quarterback Jake Rudock ran for 35, including a 4-yard touchdown.
Iowa kicker Mike Meyer continues to attack the Hawkeyes’ record book. His three field goals vaulted him into third place in team history at 53. He’s one field goal shy of tying Rob Houghtlin for second, and he’s 14 away from knotting up all-time leader Nate Kaeding.
Meyer’s first field goal was 49 yards into a stiff wind to give the Hawkeyes’ a 3-0 lead. He had other field goals of 23 and 46 yards and missed a 39-yarder when the ball hit the left upright.
“Just to know that I’ve been through this much throughout by whole career, it’s good to know,” Meyer said of his feat. “Definitely I’m striving to get better.”
Meyer also connected on his school-record 100th consecutive extra-point attempt.
Minnesota elected to start quarterback Philip Nelson instead of Mitch Leidner, despite Kill saying Leidner would start all week. It was a game-time decision, Kill said.
“He practice all week, and he’s our first-string quarterback,” Kill said. “When he’s good to go, we’re going to play him.”
Nelson finished 12-of-24 for 135 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He also was sacked four times.
Iowa and Minnesota met for the 107th time, the Hawkeyes’ most-played series and the Gophers’ second-most series. Saturday’s game was the third time in four years the teams played at Minnesota. Next year marks the fourth of five years.
When the Big Ten added Nebraska in 2011, the league revamped the schedule and put Iowa at Minnesota back-to-back years. The teams met in 2012 at Kinnick Stadium and this year at TCF Bank Stadium as originally planned. But they will play in Minneapolis again next year because the Big Ten adds Maryland a Rutgers, and the league once again shifted the schedules.
It was the 13th time Minnesota scheduled Iowa for homecoming, but just the first since 1974. The teams traditionally played late in the season until the 12-team Big Ten. It was just Iowa’s third win on Minnesota’s homecoming. The others were in 1950 and 1921.
It also marked the earliest meeting between the long-time rivals. Before last year, the teams had never played in September.
Iowa guard Conor Boffeli went down with a leg injury on the game’s final play, but Iowa Coach Kirk Ferentz said afterward that Boffeli wasn’t hurt severely. Boffeli has started every game this season.
Iowa (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) plays host to Michigan State (3-1, 0-0) on homecoming next week. The teams traditionally play hard-fought, physical games and next week should be no change. Last year Iowa won 19-16 in double overtime. Recently Iowa won 34-27 in double overtime (2007), Michigan State won 16-13 (2008) and the Hawkeyes won on the game’s final play in 2009 (15-13). The teams took turns winning blowouts in 2010 (37-6 Iowa) and 2011 (37-21 Michigan State).
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