As the Minnesota Golden Gophers wrapped up their non-conference schedule with a convincing win against the San Jose State Spartans, Gopher fans were excited for their 4-0 Gophers to open their Big Ten conference schedule at home against the Iowa Hawkeyes on September 28, 2013. The game was also the University of Minnesota’s homecoming game.
The rivalry between the Gophers and Hawkeyes started in 1891 and, going into the game, the Gophers had hosted Iowa for homecoming 12 times and held a 10-2 record. Bragging rights aside, also on the line was the coveted Floyd of Rosedale trophy, a 78-year-old trophy that debuted in 1935. Floyd took up residence in Iowa City for the past couple years and Minneapolis wanted him back. Minnesota is 41-35-2 against Iowa since Floyd was introduced and the team eagerly awaited their opponent to regain possession of Floyd.
Gopher fan’s wish would not be granted this year. The Hawkeyes brought their “A” game to TCF Bank Stadium and, despite playing close for the first quarter, dominated the Minnesota Gophers at the line of scrimmage and emerged victorious by a score of 23-7. The Hawkeyes ran for 246 yards compared to the Gophers’ 30. In terms of total yards the Hawkeyes outperformed 464-165.
Iowa started the scoring at with six minutes left in the first quarter when Iowa kicker Mike Meyer split the uprights for a 49 yard field goal into a steady wind. Iowa would follow that up with a four yard Jake Rudock QB sneak into the end zone with eight minutes left in the half. Rudock would follow that up with three minutes left in the half hitting receiver Damond Powell for a 74 yard touchdown.
The Hawkeyes led 17-0 at halftime and opened the second half scoring with five minutes left in the third quarter when Meyer hit his second field goal of the day from 23 yards. Meyer went 3-4 in field goal attempts on the day and missed a 39 yard attempt in the second quarter that hit the left upright and bounced back into the end zone.
Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson finally got some offense going with three minutes left in the second quarter when he hit Chaska native Derrick Engel for a 23 yard touchdown. The score was 20-7 and TCF Bank Stadium came to life with hope that the game was a two possession game with 18 minutes of football to play.
When the Gophers’ Brock Vereen intercepted the Hawkeyes one minute into the fourth quarter the crowd became electric. Unfortunately the Gophers could not capitalize on the turnover and punted the ball away 3:40 later. Iowa would drive down the field and Meyer would kick the game’s final points hitting a 46 yard field goal into the wind again.
From start to finish the Hawkeyes executed their game plan brilliantly while the Gophers struggled to execute their plays, the same plays they so well executed the prior week when they dominated San Jose State.
Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill acknowledged the Hawkeye dominance of the line of scrimmage saying “They handled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball better than we did.” He also tipped his hat to Iowa quarterback Jake Rudock for his play and Hawkeye head coach Kirk Ferentz with putting the Hawkeyes “in the right position to win.”
The Golden Gophers will prepare to enter the “Big House” when they travel to Michigan to take on the Wolverines on October 5, 2013. The Gophers will have a week to work on regaining the cohesive line play, on both offense and defense, and will try to come away with a win against a good but sporadically playing Wolverines team.