Minnesota’s seniors hoping to go out on a high note against Iowa

âÄúThe blink of an eye.âÄù ThatâÄôs how fast itâÄôs gone for linebacker Steve Davis . âÄúIâÄôm already a senior and this is the last game IâÄôm about to play at the University of Minnesota. ItâÄôs kind of exciting and sad for me at the same time.âÄù That mix of emotions has been talked about a lot this week. The GophersâÄô seniors expect Saturday to be âÄúbittersweetâÄù and an âÄúemotional dayâÄù when they play their final regular season game against Iowa. But thereâÄôs a word that keeps popping up that trumps all the others. One that would make the game a little less sad and a whole lot more exciting: âÄúwin.âÄù And not just because it would be nice to end their football careers with a victory. No, this game is chock full of meaning for the seniors. Start with this: while at Minnesota, theyâÄôve never won eight games in the regular season; a win against the Hawkeyes on Saturday would put them at 8-4. The seniors had a shot at 8-4 in the 2005 season finale, their freshman year. The opponent? Iowa. The result? A 52-28 loss in Iowa City. Any question the Gophers want to pay the Hawkeyes back for that? Then thereâÄôs the prized pig, Floyd of Rosedale. The seniors have hoisted that rivalry trophy only once, when they closed out 2006 with a 34-24 win over Iowa at the Metrodome. In fact, thatâÄôs the last time Minnesota has hoisted any of the four rivalry trophies they play for. Senior defensive end Willie VanDeSteeg put it best: âÄúIâÄôd love to see the pig again.âÄù HeâÄôd also love to be around to see second year head coach Tim Brewster win his first trophy game. âÄúAs a senior, I want to get that done for him so he has a memory about that.âÄù Of course, the game has meaning for essentially everyone connected to Gophers football. There are bowl game implications and the fact that Saturday will be the last game Minnesota plays in the Metrodome. But on Senior Night, itâÄôs safe to say the game will mean the most to those suiting up to play in front of a home crowd for the final time. âÄúI couldnâÄôt be more proud of our seniors,âÄù Brewster said. âÄúI feel good about the way theyâÄôre going out.âÄù TheyâÄôre going out with two things: a winning record and a bowl game. ThatâÄôs a far cry from how the seniors went out last year, and VanDeSteeg isnâÄôt forgetting it. He said he remembers the leadership and the positive attitude the 2007 seniors maintained during a 1-11 season; he also recalls how the team stepped up in their final career game against Wisconsin. He hopes this year the younger players do the same. âÄúYou gotta tell everybody, âÄòthis is my last game and I want you guys to play your hardest,âÄô âÄù VanDeSteeg said. But then again, he doesnâÄôt think that line needs too much repeating. âÄúYouâÄôve got a lot riding on this game,âÄù VanDeSteeg said. âÄúIf you canâÄôt get ready to play for this one, youâÄôre going to be in some trouble.âÄù