Iowa Lets Play Do the Talking, Beats Minnesota 23-7
By Marc Morehouse, Reporter
MINNEAPOLIS — There is no better card to play in the game of football than the physical card.
The effect is cumulative. The opponent stands his ground and then 25 outside zones later his hands are on his hips and he’s thinking about pizza and a hot tub.
Iowa played the physical card over and over and over in Saturday’s 23-7 victory over Minnesota before 51,382 fans at TCF Bank Stadium.
Running back Mark Weisman rolled up 147 yards and the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0 Big Ten) outgained the Gophers (4-1, 0-1) 246 yards to 30. That’s the physical card. That’s the backbreaker. That’s the Hawkeyes running to the left and having left tackle Brandon Scherff sit on the Gophers chest. That’s Minnesota, which came into the game averaging 282.25 rushing yards, make fire on a rock of a defense.
Let’s allow defensive tackle Louis Trinca-Pasat to break down this amazingly elaborate game plan to slow down this rushing juggernaut.
“We knew we had to come out ready to go,” said Trinca-Pasat, a Chicagoan whose accent is unmistakable. “If we didn’t, they were going to run right up our butts. . . . We just went out and played. We didn’t do any talking or anything. We just let the play do the talking. We were feeding off the energy on the plays we were making.”
Floyd of Rosedale was unveiled with a few minutes left and the Hawkeyes choking out the clock. It was right behind Iowa’s bench, so the trophy run was short, but nonetheless sweet.
“Didn’t have to run too far, we like it that way,” said linebacker James Morris, who had eight tackles, a sack and an interception with four minutes left that walled this one off. “We didn’t have to carry it so far. I remember Iowa State [carrying the Cy-Hawk Trophy], I don’t know if they did that on purpose or what.”
It wasn’t all grip-and-grunt for the Hawkeyes. Quarterback Jake Rudock, who finished 15 of 25 for 218 yards, a TD and an interception, hit wide receiver Damond Powell on a tunnel screen with 2:56 left before halftime. The offensive line pulled out to the right flat. The Gophers had called a blitz. Powell slipped between two UM defenders and dashed 74 yards untouched for a 17-0 lead.
“Coach called my number, and I went out there and made a play,” said Powell, who now averages 51.5 yards on four catches this season. “I credit the offensive line, I didn’t have to do anything but run.”
Iowa churned out 464 yards total offense, the fourth time in five games this season it has been over 400 yards. Iowa did that just twice in 2012, five times in ’11 and ’10 and four times in ’09.
“It’s fun just to follow all those big guys,” Weisman said. “It’s definitely fun to do, to be able to grind the ball. We didn’t do that against Iowa State, we didn’t finish that game off. We did that today.”
The effect was cumulative. Iowa rushed for 158 yards in the second half to 13 for Minnesota. The Gophers wedged their foot in the door when quarterback Philip Nelson threw a 23-yard TD pass to Derrick Engel with 3:06 left in the third quarter, closing the score to 20-7. Iowa pushed ahead with an 11-play drive that took 5:30 off the clock and ended with Mike Meyer’s 46-yard field goal, his third of the game, giving the Hawkeyes a 23-7 lead with 4:48 left.
Minnesota averaged 1.1 yards on 27 carries. Nelson, who missed last week with a hamstring injury, wasn’t going to pass the Gophers into this. The Gophers, who finished with a season-low 165 yards total offense, certainly weren’t going to run their way back into it.
The Gophers pressed every button they could. They were pinned.
“From what I noticed during the game, we couldn’t move Iowa,” Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said. “They handled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball better than we did.”
The Gophers wore T-shirts with a Floyd of Rosedale logo for workouts during the week. The TCF Bank video scoreboard showed videos with Gopher players talking about what the pig, the 98.3-pound bronze traveling trophy, meant to them.
That seeped into the Iowa locker room. Let’s allow center Austin Blythe to speak on how that fired up the Hawkeyes.
“We knew we were going to be here at 2:36 [p.m.] and they were going to be here at 2:36,” Blythe said. “We knew that 60 minutes of game time would decide it and it came out the way it came out.”
And that is letting the play speak for itself.
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