Iowa posts two 100-yard rushers in blowout victory

Albert Young and Damian Sims each ran for 100 yards in the Hawkeyes win.

David McCoy

IOWA CITY, Iowa ” There are days when Minnesota’s football team could seemingly line up Barbra Streisand in the backfield and run all over an opponent.

Three times this season, the Gophers had two runners go for more than 100 yards in the same game. And four times, a Minnesota running back went for more than 200 by himself.

But in Minnesota’s 52-28 loss to Iowa on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium, it was the Hawkeyes who had two running backs over 100 yards.

The last time Iowa did that was Nov. 16, 2002.

Against Minnesota.

“We all knew that coming in,” Gophers tackle Tony Brinkhaus said. “We knew what we had to play for. A whole season of work comes down to this. And we didn’t perform in the last game.”

Last year’s game against Iowa was much closer. Rhys Lloyd missed a 51-yard field goal late, sealing the Hawkeyes’ 29-27 victory, but Minnesota hung in the game by limiting Iowa to a mere 6 yards rushing.

Iowa’s Damian Sims’ yards per carry average was more than double that Saturday. Sims averaged 13 yards per carry and led the Hawkeyes with 104 yards rushing and Albert Young had 103, providing the crucial difference. Both also had a touchdown.

“That offense is a lot different,” Minnesota linebacker John Shevlin said. “You can’t do what you want to do in the passing game because you’ve got to have your guys in the box to play the run. Because we weren’t stopping it.”

Minnesota (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) played most of the game without starter Laurence Maroney, which certainly didn’t help its efforts. The Gophers handed the ball to Maroney on each of their first five plays. But Maroney would get the ball only twice more before leaving the game early after re-aggravating the injury to his right ankle. Maroney has now carried the ball only 22 times in the past three weeks.

Minnesota’s cosmetic offensive finish helped pad its stats, but despite two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Minnesota’s running game was largely a nonfactor.

“They just messed up our whole blocking schemes,” said Gophers running back Gary Russell, who carried the ball 17 times for 78 yards and a touchdown, pushing him over 1,000 yards on the season. That makes Minnesota the first team in NCAA history to have two 1,000-yard rushers three years in a row.

And with its 129 rushing yards Saturday, Minnesota has now rushed for at least 3,000 yards in a season each of the past three years as well ” a Big Ten record.

But who cares?

“If we want to take one positive from this game, that’s something we will be able to look back on when we’re older and say I was a part of,” Brinkhaus said. “And that’s nice. But either way, it’s a disappointing one.”

As for Minnesota’s woes trying to stop the run, players had a variety of reasons.

“They were doing a lot of cutback runs,” Minnesota linebacker Kyle McKenzie said. “They had a heck of an offensive scheme.”

Free safety John Pawielski pointed the finger back at his own team.

“Simple mistakes,” Pawielski said. “Mistakes that this late in the season we shouldn’t be making ” or ever.”

It was evident Minnesota didn’t know how to stop the Hawkeyes’ rushing attack. To expect the Gophers to know afterward would just be asking too much.

“It was a big step back,” Shevlin said. “I’m at a loss of words, you know. I don’t even know what to say, because we got our asses kicked.”