Thorough beating in Iowa

Matt Perkins

IOWA CITY, Iowa ” Minnesota’s football team headed into its last regular season game against Iowa with numerous bowl game scenarios.

But the Hawkeyes’ senior wide receivers slammed the door shut on any lofty bowl game hopes the Gophers may have held.

Ed Hinkel posted career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns, including a hook-up with fellow wideout Clinton Solomon in the second quarter that put Iowa up big, 28-0. The Gophers eventually lost 52-28 at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday.

After the game, Minnesota coach Glen Mason credited Iowa’s defense for having “a great scheme against what we do,” but it was the Hawkeyes’ offensive game plan that forced the Gophers into an early hole.

Hinkel hauled in seven receptions for 151 yards and four touchdowns, all of which were career highs.

The first Iowa touchdown came with 9:30 remaining in the first quarter when Hinkel beat Gophers cornerback Trumaine Banks deep on a post pattern for a 46-yard touchdown ” Hinkel’s longest career reception.

“We knew those guys were going to come out after us playing hard,” Hinkel said. “We had a good scheme heading into it.”

That scheme ” take shots downfield.

Iowa’s wideouts had 14 receptions for 311 yards, an average of more than 22 yards a catch.

“We thought their safeties were a little aggressive, and we wanted to keep them honest,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “Important thing was we executed.”

And even the one offensive play Iowa didn’t execute properly worked.

Halfway through the second quarter Iowa was already on top 21-0 and driving on the Gophers 26-yard line when the Hawkeyes attempted an end-around.

Solomon took the handoff from quarterback Drew Tate, and the Gophers sniffed it out.

Hinkel, doing his job on the play, ran the Gophers safety downfield, but Minnesota’s aggressive secondary came up to try and make a play.

Solomon said he abandoned the running play when he saw it was doomed, and found a wide open Hinkel in the front left corner of the end zone for the score.

And the Solomon to Hinkel connection did in the Gophers.

On the ensuing drive for the Gophers a deflected Bryan Cupito pass was intercepted by Iowa senior linebacker Chad Greenway and returned to the 5-yard line. From there Hawkeye sophomore running back Albert Young found the end zone to make it 35-0 late in the second quarter.

Minnesota ended their regular season with a 7-4 overall record, 4-4 in the Big Ten, and will likely play in either the Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tenn., for the third time in four years or the Motor City Bowl in Detroit.

No matter the bowl game, the Gophers will have to regroup after Saturday’s loss.

But it’s hard to recover from a game that saw even the opposition’s mistakes turn into points against the Gophers.

“When I heard Drew say “around,’ I thought around pass,” Solomon said. “As the play was going I was smiling, and then I saw the cornerback come up on me. I asked Drew if the coach called the play and he was like, “No.’ But hey, we got a touchdown.”