Minnesota Football vs. Iowa: The Elite, The Meh & The Ugly

Once again, the Minnesota Golden Gophers lost to the Iowa Hawkeyes.

The elite

Mohammed Ibrahim. This is the player I’m most heartbroken for. We could have looked back at this game as The Mohamed Ibrahim Game. On Senior Day, Ibrahim produced a performance to last in his final game at Huntington Bank Stadium. The Iowa defense came into play, averaging 88.6 rushing yards per game, and Ibrahim finished the game with 39 carries for 263 rushing yards and a touchdown. I was skeptical he’d be able to extend his streak of consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards to 19 games, but he broke the century mark with a 54-yard burst in the third quarter.

Victory in the trenches. Fleck said in his post-game press conference that he thought Minnesota won in the trenches on both sides of the ball, and I would agree. The offensive line built on their impressive performance against Northwestern and paved the way for the second straight week of 300 rushing yards. The Gophers’ defensive line kept the Hawkeyes from creating any ground play and limited them to 59 rushing yards and 2.1 yards per carry.

zero penalties. Neither team drew a single flag. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this before.

the meh

Athan Kaliakmanis and Co. To be clear, I’m rating passing on a turn because Kaliakmanis is a redshirt freshman with only four career starts under his belt. It has to get better – much better – but I thought Kaliakmanis played well at times. He was 7 of 15 for 87 passing yards and one interception, which isn’t nearly good enough. His Achilles’ heel is shaking (and puffing) for the home run right now when he’d settle for a singles or a doubles to keep the chains moving. We can only hope that this experience will pay off in the future.

the ugly

Two turnovers and a missed field goal. That cost Minnesota the game. In a game the Gophers lost by three points, Matthew Trickett’s missed 34-yard field goal in the second quarter stands out. Sales in the fourth quarter were disastrous. Twice Minnesota was able to take the lead. But on Ibrahim’s 37th carry of the night, he fumbled with Iowa’s 13-yard line. On the next drive, 3rd and 7th at the Iowa 33, Kaliakmanis forced a pass to Le’Meke Brockington and cornerback Riley Moss was able to get his hands on it and put it in linebacker’s open arms Jack Campbell deflect a groundbreaking interception.

play to lose What happened to the PJ Fleck who called for a Cole Kramer pop pass to Ko Kieft against Iowa last year in losing fourth place? That play call came 4th and 2nd at the Iowa 37 yard line and resulted in a 37 yard touchdown. This year, against 4th & 1 and an even more favorable field position at the Iowa 16-yard line late in the second quarter, Fleck chose a field goal instead, even after averaging 8.1 yards per rush attempt on the drive . Matthew Trickett’s 34-yard field goal was an inch outside the right post, allowing the Hawkeyes to maintain their 10-7 lead before halftime in the dressing room. You won’t get out of Iowa Iowa. Play to win the game.

Do not cover the tight end. It’s no secret that Iowa rivals Minnesota for the worst wide receiver corps in the Big Ten. Everyone knows their only reliable pass catchers are their tight ends. But in the Hawkeyes’ first game of Saturday’s scrimmage, Spencer Petras found Sam LaPorta on a tight end screen with a 58-yard gain. LaPorta and tight end Luke Lachey combined for nine receptions for 172 receiving yards against Minnesota. I’m amazed at how defensive coordinator Joe Rossi doesn’t seem to have thought about how Iowa might try to take advantage of the Gophers’ season-long fights covering tight ends.

Eight straight losses to the Hawkeyes. PJ Fleck falls to 0-6 against Iowa. He may have ended the losing streak against Wisconsin and helped level the playing field against the Badgers, but he was responsible for the bulk of the losses in that embarrassing slip against the Hawkeyes. Might as well bring the Floyd of Rosedale trophy case to camp.

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