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Gophers lose to Iowa, drop to 1-3

Minnesota hasn’t beaten Iowa since 2014.
Image by Nur B. Adam
Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan launches a pass over Michigan’s defensive line on Saturday, Oct. 24.

In P.J. Fleck’s four seasons as head coach, the Gophers have beaten every team in the Big Ten West… except one.

That team, the Iowa Hawkeyes, proved to be a thorn in the side of Fleck and Minnesota again on Friday, beating the Gophers 35-7 at TCF Bank Stadium and retaining the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. It’s the Gophers’ largest margin of defeat since they lost to Maryland 42-13 on Sept. 22, 2018.

“A lot of things we did tonight is uncharacteristic of our football team,” Fleck said. “I told the team, ‘We have an identity, we know who we are, and we win games a certain way, and tonight we were basically the complete opposite of that.’”

Minnesota hasn’t beaten Iowa since 2014 and has won just five matchups against the Hawkeyes since 2000. Iowa hasn’t trailed in a game against the Gophers since 2016.

The Hawkeyes’ scoring started midway through the first quarter when wide receiver Nico Ragaini scored on a jet sweep handoff from the one-yard line to give Iowa an early 7-0 lead.

Iowa extended its lead in the second quarter, this time on a seven-yard rushing touchdown from Tyler Goodson to make it 14-0. Goodson would tack on another touchdown late in the game.

The Gophers looked ready to cut that two touchdown lead in half in the opening moments of the third quarter. But on third-and-six with the ball at the Iowa 20 yard line, Minnesota opted to hand the ball off to Mohamed Ibrahim which resulted in just a one-yard gain. They then attempted a 39-yard field goal, which they missed.

“We were gonna go for it on fourth down… that’s why we ran the ball,” Fleck said of the third down play call. “When we lost the yard there was no way I was going to go for it now.”

The Gophers offense, which averaged 36 points through three games, was a shell of their normal selves. Iowa’s top-15 run defense stifled Ibrahim and Tanner Morgan continued a string of uncharacteristically bad performances.

Morgan threw for 167 yards, completing 16-33 attempts for one touchdown and two interceptions.

“Obviously we have to play better,” Morgan said. “That starts with me right here, and I most certainly will do that.”

Without a strong offensive performance, Minnesota tried to rely on its provenly unreliable defense to keep it in the game. They didn’t fare much better.

The Gophers rush defense, which ranked 112 out of 123 FBS teams entering Friday, struggled again. Goodson ran for over 140 yards and powered a unit that ran for seven yards a carry. Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras threw for 111 yards, completing 9-18 for one touchdown and one interception.

“Our whole football team was inconsistent. Offense, defense, special teams,” Fleck said. “We didn’t earn the right to get the pig back. We didn’t play well enough to get it.”

Minnesota was also called for 80 yards worth of penalties, the most notable of which was a targeting penalty on linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin that led to Sori-Marin’s ejection.

Minnesota will try to correct its sloppy play and get back on track when it hosts Purdue next week on Friday Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m.

“It’s a tough loss. We definitely didn’t expect to lose like this,” cornerback Coney Durr said. “But we got a whole season left.”

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