Golden Gophers look to break spell against Hawkeyes
Iowa’s defense made life miserable for Michigan State quarterbacks last week, producing two sacks, three interceptions and five quarterback hurries while forcing the Spartans into 21 incompletions in the Hawkeyes’ blowout victory.
“We’ve been trying to establish our identity,” Iowa senior defensive end Chauncey Golston said after the 49-7 thumping. “We knew that if we got pressure, if we stopped the run, then we could do what we enjoy doing. And that’s rush the passer.”
Golston and the Hawkeyes turn their sights to Friday night’s game against Big Ten rival Minnesota, hoping to slow one of the most productive offenses in the Big Ten.
Iowa (1-2 overall and in Big Ten) is in search of its first winning streak of the young season, visiting the Golden Gophers (1-2) with the Floyd of Rosedale trophy on the line.
The Golden Gophers, who also are coming off their first victory of 2020, boast the top offense in the Big Ten West, averaging 439.3 yards while scoring 109 points.
Minnesota defeated host Illinois 41-14 on Saturday behind a standout performance from running back Mohamed Ibrahim, who rushed 30 times for 224 yards and four touchdowns. Ibrahim, who garnered conference offensive player of the week honors, has gained a conference-best 571 yards on 5.9 yards per carry with 10 touchdowns through three games.
Golden Gophers coach P.J. Fleck has praised Ibrahim’s development from one-time scout team player to emerging offensive star.
“He’s got that same mentality, and he’s earned everything,” Fleck said. “A lot of times in our world, we just want things handed to us, and Mo isn’t that way. Mo earns everything that he has gotten, and he’s done it the hard way. And I’m really proud of him for that.”
Iowa also enjoyed success on the ground Saturday, with Tyler Goodson rushing 14 times for 113 yards and two touchdowns in the 49-7 win. The Hawkeyes also got a special teams touchdown as well as three takeaways that created prime field position.
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz credited an effective and efficient defensive line rotation that limited the visitors to 59 rushing yards while keeping Michigan State quarterback Rocky Lombardi uncomfortable.
“Failure is part of growth, but we’re seeing improvement,” Ferentz said. “Guys are working hard, and when guys work hard, that’s positive. It’s got to be a group effort, so if everybody is moving forward, maybe we’ve got a chance to become a good team.”
Iowa enters Friday’s game with five consecutive victories in the series, which means Floyd of Rosedale — the statuette of the bronze pig that has served as the rivalry trophy in the series since 1935 — has resided in Iowa City for half a decade. That matches its longest stint ever in Iowa’s hands.
In the schools’ 2019 meeting in Iowa City, the Hawkeyes stormed to a 20-3 lead midway through the second quarter before holding on for a 23-19 victory to ruin the No. 8 Golden Gophers’ bid for an undefeated season and possible spot in the College Football Playoff.
Fleck said this week his team would dwell not so much on its recent past against Iowa as the storied tradition the programs share.
“That’s why you come to Minnesota, to play in more rivalries than anybody else in the Big Ten,” said Fleck, whose teams are 0-3 against Iowa, 9-7 against the other teams in the Big Ten West. “It’s a very historic conference, it’s a very historic football university, and we want to make sure that every player on our team is educated about that and will continue to do that.”
Minnesota leads the all-time series 62-49-2, but the gulf is much closer in the Floyd of Rosedale series, which the Golden Gophers lead 42-41-2.
–Field Level Media