Floyd beginning to feel like greased pig

Senior quarterback Adam Webber plays against Illinois November 13 in Champaign.

Christopher Austin, Daily File Photo

Senior quarterback Adam Webber plays against Illinois November 13 in Champaign.

Josh Katzenstein

The last time MinnesotaâÄôs football team won a coveted trophy game was Nov. 18, 2006, in a 34-24 victory over Iowa that capped a three-game winning streak and made the Gophers bowl eligible in Glen MasonâÄôs final season. 1,468 days and 10,753 Adam Weber passing yards later, the fifth-year senior quarterback who redshirted that season still remembers the exact moment when his team ran over to the Iowa sideline and grabbed Floyd of Rosedale for the first time since 2000. Now, as the unquestioned leader of the Gophers (2-9, 1-6 Big Ten), Weber hopes he can lead his team to a victory over the No. 24 Hawkeyes (7-4, 4-3) on Senior Day, the final game for Weber and 14 other seniors. âÄú[ItâÄôs] our last chance to really win a trophy game,âÄù Weber said, âÄúto be really a part of that, so itâÄôs a very important game for us, and thatâÄôs going to definitely be on our minds every single day for practice.âÄù But Weber knows as well as anybody that the Gophers will need to actually score to make that dream a reality Saturday. In the last two games for the bronze pig, Iowa has outscored Minnesota 67-0, including a 55-0 win in 2008 that left Minnesota on a four-game skid heading into the Insight Bowl âÄî a game it later lost to Kansas. Fortunately for this yearâÄôs Gophers, a win over Illinois on Nov. 13 and an idle week gives them all the fire going into a contest against a Hawkeyes team that has lost two straight. The bye week couldâÄôve been enough time for the emotional high from the comeback win at Illinois to wear away, but a team that was so desperate for a win after losing nine straight hasnâÄôt lost its glee. âÄúObviously with the win youâÄôve got a little more pep in your step,âÄù interim head coach Jeff Horton said. âÄúItâÄôs real smiles and real laughter.âÄù Horton knows something about winning the Floyd of Rosedale as an underdog, which the Gophers have been in every game this season since falling to South Dakota State on Sept. 11. When Horton was a graduate assistant at Minnesota in 1984, he watched the 3-7 Gophers take down a 6-3-1 Hawkeyes team that seemed as daunting as Big Brother. âÄúWe had a great team, and nobody gave us a chance,âÄù Horton said of the âÄô84 team. âÄúI remember we won that game then, and I know nobodyâÄôs probably giving us a chance this year because of the records, but weâÄôre certainly going to have a great week of preparation.âÄù That preparation includes spending Thanksgiving together and adjusting ThursdayâÄôs schedule. Horton said the Gophers will start meetings at 9 a.m. and finish practice at 11:30 a.m. before eating a plentiful feast that he equated to âÄúthe last supper.âÄù âÄúAll the sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, no processed turkey,âÄù Horoton said. âÄúWe want a real turkey and stuffing, and make it good for them.âÄù HortonâÄôs morbid comparison sadly might not be far off as this will be the last game for the seniors, and could be the last game for coaches who will have to await the new head coachâÄôs decision on their statuses with the program. Still, junior running back Duane Bennett sees the meal as a final opportunity for bonding. âÄúNothing changes besides the family ties, but at the same time this is my football family,âÄù he said. âÄúIâÄôll still be with family having a good time.âÄù In order for that joy to carry over Saturday, Bennett, Weber and the Gophers offense will have to move the ball against an Iowa defense thatâÄôs allowed just 15.5 points per game, second in the Big Ten. Behind that stout defense and the conferenceâÄôs most efficient quarterback (163.2 rating) in senior Ricky Stanzi, the Hawkeyes rank second in the nation in turnover margin (plus 14). On paper, Iowa is far superior to the Gophers, but senior fullback Jon Hoese said the Hawkeyes arenâÄôt invincible. He and the rest of the seniors will try to prove that during an emotional Saturday. âÄúIâÄôm just trying to stay focused on the game,âÄù Weber said, âÄúbut I know going out for Senior Day before that game, itâÄôs going to be very emotional, very hard to kind of keep everything together. âÄúBut when itâÄôs all said and done we still have to go out there and play football and try to win a game.âÄù The Gophers hold a 59-42-2 all-time edge in the matchup, but they will try to start the decade strong to leave behind memories of a recent 1-8 slide. âÄúWe need to go out there and win the Floyd of Rosedale,âÄù Horton said. âÄúTo make it rivalry, we need to win more.âÄù