Late offensive surge not enough to beat Iowa

by John R. Carter

IOWA CITY ñ The stampede didn’t occur until Iowa’s 42-24 win over Minnesota was complete. The stomping, on the other hand, had been going on for hours.

Following the Hawkeyes rout at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, Iowa’s entire team charged across to the Gophers sideline like The Running of the Bulls at Pamplona.

But instead of averting the livestock, Iowa’s football players were dashing toward it. Floyd of Rosedale, the bronze pig, was in their sights. Then, moments later, in their possession.

The Hawkeyes victory marks the first time since 1997 that Floyd will stay in Iowa City. For the first time since 1997, Iowa (6-4, 4-4 Big Ten) clinched a winning record. And for the first time since 1997, the Hawkeyes are bowl bound.

“Today was a great day for the Hawks,” Iowa third-year coach Kirk Ferentz said. “It is great to see Floyd back here again, and to see the players get their hands on him.”

The Gophers, meanwhile, had a dismal day in corn country. Minnesota dropped to 3-7 overall and 1-6 in the Big Ten. But most painfully, saw Floyd hoisted by the enemy.

Playing the entire game without injured linebacker Phil Archer and the second half without safety Jack Brewer ñ the team’s two leading tacklers ñ didn’t factor too much into the loss.

The 1985 Chicago Bears defense would have struggled against Iowa’s offensive execution.

The Hawkeyes scored touchdowns on their first six possessions of the game, led 21-0 after one quarter, 28-3 at halftime and 42-10 after three quarters. Iowa didn’t punt until there was 11 minutes left in the game.

“We played lousy defense,” Gophers coach Glen Mason said. “We couldn’t stop them. And it’s awfully tough to play on the road against a team like Iowa and dig yourself into a hole like we did.”

Senior running back Ladell Betts paced Iowa’s running game, gaining 171 yards and a touchdown. Betts was held for negative yardage just once on 28 carries.

In the air, the quarterback combination of Kyle McCann and Brad Banks completed 13 of 14 passes for 206 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

The only incompletion, by McCann, was an intentional throw away to avoid a sack in the third quarter.

“I don’t think we were ready mentally to play them,” said linebacker Ben West, who made his first career start in the place of Archer. “They wanted it a lot more than we did, especially in the first half.”

The 25-point first half hole Minnesota dug itself in was the largest of the season. So deep, even the 475 total yards ñ two more than Iowa gained ñ couldn’t rescue the Gophers.

So deep, sophomore quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq’s career-high 319 yards passing and three touchdowns didn’t matter.

And so deep, senior wideout Ron Johnson, his career high 181 yards receiving and two touchdown grabs, all went for naught.

“The career-highs are great and all, but most of the yards came in the second half,” Abdul-Khaliq said. “If they had come in the first half, the outcome would have been a lot different.”

While both Abdul-Khaliq and Johnson had impressive afternoons, much of the yardage came in desperation. Of Abdul-Khaliq’s yardage, 239 came after halftime. Meanwhile, Johnson only posted 20 yards in the first half.

Iowa’s run defense deserves much of the credit. The Hawkeyes allowed just 107 total yards rushing, 127 yards less than the Gophers ñ ranked ninth in the nation ñ average per game.

Minnesota’s Tellis Redmon, the conference’s fourth leading rusher, was held to just 19 yards ñ 86 under his season average and second-worst total since he was named the starter to begin last season.

While the Gophers running game was nonexistent, Iowa knew how to move on the ground long before the team’s dash toward Floyd.

Minnesota junior cornerback Mike Lehan, one of several Gophers caught in the onslaught, warned Iowa to be ready for the same treatment next year at the Metrodome.

“It’s something we haven’t been accustomed to the past couple of years,” Lehan said of losing to Iowa. “But it’s just going to set us up for running across to their sidelines next year.”

John R. Carter covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]