Game Recap: The Gophers Lost and That's OK!
I knew going into Iowa this was going to be a tough game. Kinnick Stadium is an extremely tough place to play, and it showed on Saturday.
I made the trip down to Iowa City for the first time to see Minnesota battle for the Floyd of Rosedale. Even though Minnesota lost, it was still an entertaining atmosphere and fun environment to be a part of.
Iowa fans were friendly, welcoming and funny for the most part! Iowan drivers, on the other hand, are a different story from what I experienced. But there were definitely some obnoxious Hawkeye fans.
As I was walking out of the stadium when it was known Iowa was going to win the game, Iowa fans were doing the rowing gesture and telling us Minnesota fans to row back to Minnesota!
All there was in Iowa City were Kum & Go's and the University. That's it! No uptown, downtown, dinkytown, lakes, forests, professional baseball, professional hockey, nothing! I will gladly row the boat back to Minnesota. Iowa is boring and depressing!
Minnesota is still 9-1 and ranked 11th in country according to the recent AP poll! If you would have told me the Gophers would be 9-1 at the beginning of the year, I would have been hesitant to say that was even a possibility.
Am I disappointed the Gophers lost? For sure! We made some critical mistakes that cost us from getting to 10-0. But it was a hard fought game in a difficult environment in front of nearly 70,000 people screaming against the Gophers. And the Gophers proved once again to all the doubters that this team is legit and can play with some of the country's best teams especially on the road.
I have to tell you though, the way the first half was going when Minnesota gave up 20 points, I was thinking this game could be a blow out. But then Minnesota came out in the second half on fire, outscoring the Hawkeyes 16 to 3. Unfortunately, the poor start for Minnesota cost them the game.
The defense was getting beat on every play from scrimmage in the first half. Nate Stanley, an above average quarterback for the most part, was lighting up the Minnesota defense.
The Gophers made some poor reads in the defensive back field, and the defensive line was getting faked out on the play action. These mistakes were mostly resolved in the second half, but it really cost them in the first half.
Going deeper into the game, I am not a guy to discuss hypotheticals very often. The result of a game happened for a reason. And in this game, Iowa won fair and square! Kirk Ferentz is an excellent coach! But that does not make it easy to ignore the missed opportunities Minnesota had in this football game.
From what I could see after being at the game, the Gophers left up to 11 points on the field. But really, there was one big play that decided this game for Minnesota, and I saw every aspect of it.
When Minnesota was driving down the field in the third quarter and made it to Iowa's 14 yard line, they went for it on fourth down, and Tyler Johnson dropped a ball at the one yard line that was thrown right in his bread basket. I was sitting about 27 rows up at about the five yard line. That was rough to watch.
You give up ATLEAST three points with that drop. If Minnesota scores a tuddy on that drive, the game is tied at that point. Well, its tied if you make the extra point. That play, I think, decided the whole game. And in the end, You get seven on that, Gophers win the game.
But he dropped the ball. Its football! It happens and Iowa took advantage of it. You move on! The Gophers definitely had more mistakes with other dropped balls from Rashod Bateman and dumb penalties so you cannot really pin it all on Johnson's drop.
Another thing that was problematic in this game that has been an issue the last few weeks is Minnesota's kicking situation. The Gophers have been without their starting kicker, Michael Lantz due to injury.
Brock Walker, who did not start the season and did not get any playing time until the Maryland game at the end of October, got the nod in the Iowa game, his first road game of the season. He missed a 50 yard field goal in the first half, which is understandable. That is a difficult kick in that kind of environment. I am not even sure Lantz would have made that kick. But Walker missed an extra point. You cannot do that in a game like that.
He completely Blair Walshed it!
Costly mistakes defensively in the first half, mental mistakes from the offense and some kicking woes cost Minnesota the game.
That's not to say, however, Minnesota had a "bad" game. To only lose by four in Iowa is something Minnesota does not do often. Usually they lose in Iowa by 14+ points. I mean the Gophers lost 48-31 last year in Minneapolis to Iowa. Big improvement!
The Gophers actually produced more offensively than the Hawkeyes. Minnesota had 431 total yards and Iowa only had 290. I was surprised by how poised and calm Tanner Morgan was in the pocket with 70,000 screaming fans in his ear. He still threw for 368 yards and one touchdown.
But like I said before, Iowa won this game fair and square! They played smarter and PJ Fleck was out coached by Ferentz, who I respect a lot as a coach! He is a great coach!
Iowa stopped Minnesota's run game to almost nothing. The Gophers only had 63 rushing yards. You're not going to win many games running like that.
Despite losing, it was still a great game! The Gophers still looked good, and I have no doubt they will beat Iowa when they come to TCF Bank Stadium next season. The home field advantage may have very well helped the Hawkeyes win the game.
The Gophers still have a one-game advantage in the West division standings over Wisconsin with a 7-1 conference record.
Minnesota will take on a 2-8 Northwestern Wildcats team next weekend in Evanston, Illinois for a chance to go 10-1, and potentially clinch the West IF Wisconsin loses to Purdue, which is unlikely, but possible!
More than likely, the Wisconsin game at the end of the season will be for the West and a berth in the Big Ten title game in Indianapolis. But let's see how next weekend goes first!
I'm still rowing!
Row the Boat! Ski-U-Mah! Go Gophers!