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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

Minnesota football’s joyous reaction over the return of Floyd of Rosedale

Coaches and veteran players reflect on their win over Iowa while maintaining a focus on Saturday’s game against Michigan State.
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.

For the first time in 30 years, Minnesota football holds possession of both the Floyd of Rosedale and Paul Bunyan’s Axe. 

Minnesota, fresh off an embarrassing loss at home against Michigan, made a nine-point comeback, beating the rival Iowa Hawkeyes and reclaiming Floyd for the first time since 2015.

The Gophers have preached complimentary football and achieved it in all regards after the win. Their defense held Iowa’s strong rushing attack to just 11 yards on 28 carries while the offense responded when called upon, setting Dragan Kesich up to make three field goals and seal the victory.

Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck said during a press conference Monday morning the team had planned to hoist the pig in pairs.

“Coach [Dan] Nichol, who’s our strength coach, told me it’s definitely heavier than 98 pounds,” Fleck said. “I did tell [the players] ‘when you go over there, run to go get it. We had a buddy system because it is really heavy.” 

Raising Floyd of Rosedale meant the world to some of the players who had never beaten Iowa during their time at Minnesota.

Gophers Brevyn Spann-Ford, Nathan Boe and Chris Autman-Bell have totaled 19 years of college football with Minnesota but had never beaten Iowa before last Saturday afternoon. Minnesota’s Offensive Coordinator Greg Harbaugh Jr. told the media on Wednesday those three players were prominent vocal leaders leading up to the game.

“All three of them really took a huge hand in talking to the offense every day,” Harbaugh said. “Brevyn had struggled, but at that moment when we beat Iowa, all that went away.”

The recent struggles against Iowa were a burden on coaches and players. Fleck and defensive coordinator Joe Rossi had not beaten the Hawkeyes until this season.

During the postgame press conference on Oct. 21, fifth-year safety Tyler Nubin said the Iowa game factored into his decision to return to Minnesota.

“After that Iowa game last year, going into my decision, I wanted one more shot at it,” Nubin said. “I wanted to go one more shot with my brothers this season, at this game especially, playing here at Kinnick Stadium.”

The weight has seemingly lifted off the shoulders of Gopher players and their fans after conquering a challenge that seemed insurmountable heading into the season.

However, Minnesota has to keep looking ahead as they face Michigan State on Saturday. Gophers quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis seconded this during a Wednesday afternoon press conference.

“That was a great win, meant a lot for sure, tons of emotion, but it’s time to go 1-0 in the Michigan State season,” Kaliakmanis said.

The terms “1-0” and “Iowa season” are used frequently by the team to show their supreme focus on the game in front of them. Fleck preaches preparing for every week like a season, so the players take on that burden of putting in the extra effort to prepare.

Michigan State will arrive at Huntington Bank Stadium on Saturday as losers of their last five games. The Gophers will seek their fifth win of the season and improve to 3-2 in Big Ten play.

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  • Donna Whipple
    Oct 30, 2023 at 2:40 pm

    I’m new here and don’t know what the Floyd of Rosedale or Paul Bunyan’s Axe means– clarification would be appreciated 🙂