Iowa Breezes By Minnesota 23-7
Mark Weisman rushed for 147 yards on 24 carries, and Mike Meyer made three of his four field goal attempts to help the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0) start the Big Ten with a bang. After losing their opener to Northern Illinois, they’ve outscored their last two opponents 82-10.
Senior linebackers Christian Kirksey, James Morris and Anthony Hitchens led a stifling effort on defense, including interceptions by Kirksey and Morris of Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson. Nelson hadn’t played in two weeks because of an injury, but he started ahead of Mitch Leidner for the Gophers (4-1, 0-1).
Nelson lost 18 yards on nine rushes and completed 12 of 24 passes for 135 yards and one touchdown to Derrick Engel, who had 67 yards on five catches.
Iowa outgained Minnesota 464-165 in total yards and the win lets the Hawkeyes keep possession of the Floyd of Rosedale trophy.
The Gophers went 3-9 in 2010 and 2011, but they beat bowl-bound Iowa teams here in both of those seasons. The payback came last year at Kinnick Stadium, where Minnesota’s 4-0 nonconference record was buried beneath a bunch of powerful runs by Weisman in a 31-13 loss.
The Gophers were far more convincing with their first four victories this year, with an average of 41.8 points and 282.2 yards rushing per game, but this defeat was equally humbling and decisive.
Punter Peter Mortell, who averaged more than 45 yards on five attempts in the first half, was Minnesota’s best asset. But even when the Hawkeyes started deep in their own end, they were strong enough to escape. They went 80 yards in eight plays to score on Rudock’s scramble for 4 yards just inside the pylon. Two possessions later Rudock completed two passes for 85 yards, the latter a short wide receiver screen to Damond Powell, who raced 74 yards untouched on his way .
Powell, a junior who’s not even listed on the two-deep lineup, stopped still and stared in taunting pose at the Minnesota student section for several seconds before retreating to the sideline. Powell has four receptions this season, three of 49 yards or longer and two for two touchdowns.
Marcus Jones took a late-third-quarter kickoff out of the end zone for 66 yards, setting up Minnesota’s first score. Nelson’s best throw came four plays later on a slant pattern to Engel for the 23-yard touchdown. Iowa quickly marched toward an answering score, but senior safety Brock Vereen darted in front of Tevaun Smith in the end zone to intercept Rudock and keep the Gophers in it.
Nelson’s keeper on fourth-and-1 gave extended the next drive, but on third-and-10 at their own 43 the sophomore had Engel open on a post route but overthrew him to prompt a punt.
Another significant step back for the Gophers was with their discipline. They were the least-penalized team in the conference entering the weekend, but they were flagged five times for 45 yards, including two costly false start infractions.
With this series having started in 1891 and these programs playing for the 107th time, the old-fashioned styles each team took with them to this game was fitting. But only the Hawkeyes held up their end of the bargain. They’ve yet to allow a rushing touchdown this year.
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