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Published June 13, 2024

Minnesota looks to break 23-year drought at Kinnick Stadium

The Gophers will visit Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes, a familiar foe that has gone unbeaten in the rivalry since 2015.
Image by Amaya Battle
Martin Owusu (center) with Nathan Boe (left) leading a colony of Gophers out of the home team tunnel at Huntington Bank Stadium before playing Michigan Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023.

Minnesota football, holding a record of 3-3, will make their biannual trip to Kinnick Stadium this week, looking to break even with a win over the No. 24 ranked Iowa Hawkeyes.

The Gophers lead the all-time series 62-52-2 against the Hawkeyes but have struggled historically in Iowa City. In the last 41 years, the Gophers have won at Kinnick Stadium twice.

The recent history of the rivalry is not any prettier for Minnesota. They have been held winless since Iowa won 40-35 in 2015.

Minnesota’s offensive coordinator, Greg Harbaugh Jr., told the media on Wednesday the Gophers are not worried about the past and are focused on how to win this Saturday.

“This is a totally different season and a totally different team; that is all I’ve continued to focus on,” Harbaugh said. 

The Gophers entered the bye week at the perfect time to recalibrate after losing to the Michigan Wolverines. Harbaugh said, as a playcaller, the extra days to prepare, especially for a team like Iowa, was a huge help.

Head coach P.J. Fleck, during his press conference Monday morning, recognized the significance of the rivalry and the anticipation behind ending the recent drought.

“It means a lot to our fanbase, means a lot to our players, means a lot to our state as it does for Iowa’s team,” Fleck said. “They’ve had a lot of success in years past and I think we haven’t won there since 1999.”

Fleck has yet to beat Iowa during his tenure as head coach which led to the extension of the now 23-year drought at Kinnick Stadium.

The game will be decided in the trenches, with Iowa and Minnesota looking to control the clock by establishing the run game.

Joe Rossi, the Gophers defensive coordinator, told the media Wednesday afternoon Minnesota cannot get bored doing their job because that is when Iowa exploits their opponents.

Rossi added the focus on defense is to start fast to combat the Hawkeyes from jumping on the Gophers early.

Last week, Iowa ran the ball 48 times against Wisconsin, compared to just six completions on 14 pass attempts. Additionally, Hawkeyes head coach Kirk Ferentz announced on Wednesday Iowa’s leading receiver, Erick All, will miss the remainder of the season due to a torn ACL.

The matchup consists of two offenses that have struggled to move the ball and defenses that are familiar with their opponent’s offensive scheme. Field position and making the correct decision on fourth downs in the opponent’s territory will play a critical role in the game.

The Daily Iowan football beat reporter, Cooper Worth, said Saturday will be a tough game between two fruitless offenses, while special teams could make a massive impact.

“[These are] not two of the best passing offenses in college football.” Worth said. “In Iowa’s case, I see a lot of what they’ve been doing with special teams. Tory Taylor is setting up the defense in good positions, low scoring affairs, an Iowa defense [score] or a special teams score from a Cooper DeJean return.”

Taylor is Iowa’s punter.

The over-under line for the game is set at 30.5 points and, if it holds, will be the lowest in college football in the last 20 years.

Minnesota aims to flip this lopsided rivalry in Iowa City with a win that could be season-defining.

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