Who Hates Iowa? We Hate Iowa!

Posted: November 1, 2011 by Kodi in Gopher Redemption, NCAA

The battle for Floyd of Rosedale!

Can the Gophers beat Iowa in back-to-back seasons?

Does a victory against Iowa make everything better?

The Minnesota Gophers football team prepared for another Big Ten battle against a familiar foe, the Iowa Hawkeyes in the battle for Floyd of Rosedale. Floyd has a key place in Iowan and Minnesotan’s heart because it is the bronze pig statue that the two football teams have battled for since 1934. What some people don’t know about Floyd is the racial undertones that are attached to the bronze pig. What one must understand is the dramatic role that college football had in the 1930’s, similar to professional football today, and the Minnesota dynasty that was being created.

The Gophers had won the Big Ten Championship in 1933 and ’34 and going into the 1935 match-up with the 4-0-1 Iowa Hawkeyes and the 5-0 Gophers wanted to up the ante. In the 1934 game the Hawkeyes had put a bounty out on Gopher star Ozzie Simmons a rare African American football player on a major college football team. Coming into the 1935 game Iowa Governor Clyde Herring didn’t want to see Minnesota attempt anything similar.

Minnesota Governor Floyd Olson caught wind of this and wrote Herring this telegram “Minnesota folks are excited over your statement about Iowa crowds lynching the Minnesota football team. I have assured them you are law abiding gentlemen and are only trying to get our goat. I will bet you a Minnesota prize hog against an Iowa prize hog that Minnesota wins.” The Gophers went on to beat Iowa 13-6 on their way to the team’s third straight Big Ten title.

The football team didn’t just come home with a W they also brought with them a genuine award winning pig from Rosedale Farms in Iowa and was named after the Minnesota Governor, hence Floyd of Rosedale. The bronze statue was created by Charles Brioscho who Governor Olson had commissioned to sculpt his grand prize and give the two teams a statue to fight over every year.

That’s the history of that little bronze pig and coming into Saturday’s match-up the Gopher led the series 40-34-2. They beat Iowa in 2010 under an interim coach but have beaten Iowa just twice in the last 10 meetings. This rivalry is the second oldest in the Big Ten for Minnesota besides Wisconsin and although Floyd has been around quite a while this was the 105th match-up between the Hawkeyes and Gophers. Iowa is traveling to TCF Bank Stadium for the second time in as many years and is actually the first time one team has hosted games in back –to-back years since 1949-50.

Minnesota has had a difficult year thus far and were coming off of a 41-14 beat down by the hands of Nebraska during the teams Homecoming game a week ago. The Gophers may not want to admit it but they must be getting used to that sour taste in their mouths after getting their asses handed to them. The Gophers have been outscored 251 to 119 in their first 7 games and have just one victory against Miami (OH). Minnesota and HC Jerry Kill were desperate for something positive, so that the program and it’s kids had something positive to grow from.

Iowa had scored over 40 points in their last two Big Ten games and were facing a Gophers team that has allowed 40+ points in all of their conference games. The game started off incredibly slow and Iowa just kept shooting themselves in the foot, missing two FGs in the first 2 quarters. This is a huge stat for the Gophers because they had been outscored 48-0 in the first quarter during their first 7 games and outscored 103-3 in the first halves of all their games.

The game was scoreless until Iowa QB James Vandenberg hit WR Marvin McNutt for a 12 yard TD with just over 5 minutes left in the first half. Minnesota responded well and QB MarQueis Gray connected with WR Devin Crawford-Tufts for the Gophers longest offensive play of the year, a 61 yard reception that brought them to Iowa’s 16 yard line. A few plays later Gray hit TE Collin McGarry for a 3 yard TD pass and the teams went into halftime tied.

Minnesota got the ball back to start the second half but Iowa held them to a three and out and were able to rely on McNutt and RB Marcus Coker to drive them downfield for a TD. The Gophers were unable to respond as they did in the first half and had their second three and out in as many drives. Iowa was driving downfield until DB Kyle Henderson came off the edge and sacked Vandenberg and forced a fumble which was recovered by the Gophers.

The ensuing drive had another big connection between Gray and Crawford-Tufts for a 39 yard reception but fizzled afterwards and the Gophers were forced to kick a 28 yard Field Goal. Minnesota sent out K Jordan Wettstein instead of an injured K Chris Hawthorne who had attempted all of the Gophers previous kicking attempts but was 14-15 in extra points and 6-9 in Field Goal attempts making just 1-4 from 40+ yards.

The Hawkeyes took the following kick return 57 yards and just 7 plays later RB Marcus Coker was running in his 2nd 1 yard TD of the day and gave Iowa a 21-10 lead with just less than 14 minutes left in the game. Coker would finish the game with 32 rush attempts 252 yards and the 2 rushing TDs. It seemed as if the Gophers were letting another game slip away but the Gophers went back to a pounding running game and rode the backs of RBs Duane Bennett and Donnell Kirkwood and MarQueis Gray. A 21 yard reception by WR DaJon McKnight was thrown into the mix but 69 of those yards came on the ground, including Bennett’s 1 yard TD run. The Gophers brought in QB Max Shortell to attempt the 2 point conversion but ultimate failed.

HC Jerry Kill and Minnesota were down 5 points with just over 8 minutes to play and the Gophers caught nearly everyone off-guard, most importantly the Hawkeye’s Special Teams, when Wettstein performed a picture perfect onside kick that was recoverd by Minnesota. The Gophers stuck with what was working and ran the ball again and again. There was just two completed passes on the drive for a total of 12 yards but it was what MarQueis did with his feet that impressed many. It was 4th and goal from the 3 yard line and Minnesota skeptics thought that once again the Gophers would get close but fall just short. Gray shut those doubters mouths and rushed the ball into the end-zone with just 2:48 left in the game.

Minnesota tried another 2 point conversion to give them a 3 point lead but Gray was unable to rush it into the end-zone on back-to-back plays. The game was not yet decided but Iowa had less than three minutes to get into FG range for their kicker who had already missed a few earlier attempts. Three consecutive incomplete passes, a false start and a 9 yard rush gave the Gophers the ball back after just 36 seconds and all they had to do was run out the clock. Minnesota and HC Jerry Kill had won their first Big Ten game of the year and career in Kill’s case but most importantly gave something for Gophers fans to look forward to.

This may be more impactful than the 27-24 victory against Iowa in the final game of the year last season because the outlook was so bleak for a Gophers team that was struggling to even contend in games. Iowa has lost back-to-back games to Minnesota for the first time since 1998-00 when the Gophers won 3 games in a row. This defeat was Iowa’s 5th defeat in as many road games and they have struggled mightily but as Hawkeye’s HC Kirk Ferentz said “if you don’t finish drives and get points, that will come back and get you, if you can’t stop the run, at some point it’s going to get you, and we didn’t really do anything to distinguish ourselves”.

Iowa came into the game scoring on 26 of 27 redzone attempts but were just 3 of 6 against the Gophers thanks to a few missed field goals and the Gophers first Turnover since a Kim Royston’s INT in their only victory against the Miami (OH) Redhawks.

Coker was obviously the best RB on the field rushing for over 250 yards but for the first time this season Gophers RB Duane Bennett ran for over 100 yards including his TD. When Coker was asked about his career high day he said it “doesn’t matter – we lost. I came here to win football games, and that’s all I care about. . . It didn’t matter what we did, we didn’t do enough. We took a loss, that’s all we took”. When Gophers RB Bennett was asked about his feelings on the game he said “this helped us move forward in a strong and positive way. It feels great to keep Floyd here again especially it being my senior season, it’s great to go out with a bang”.

The Gophers fans stormed the field, because it may have been their only chance to do so all year, but HC Kill knows how important this victory is for the program. “I am happy for the state of Minnesota, the administration, the fans, but most importantly I am happy for our kids. It is great to see them smile and have a good time. Floyd will be staying in Minnesota for a while” and so will Jerry Kill who signed a 7 year contract extension earlier in the week. This may be the first key victory for Kill and this program and hopefully Minnesota can grow and improve as a team. They got a lot of work ahead of them facing the #17 Michigan St. Spartans and #20 Wisconsin Badgers in the next two weeks.

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