(Courtesy: Iowa Athletics)
IOWA CITY, Iowa – The University of Iowa’s November magic at Kinnick Stadium lived Saturday.
The 20th-ranked Hawkeyes handed No. 7 Minnesota its first loss of the season, 23-19, and kept Floyd of Rosedale in Iowa City for another year. Some of the Blackout crowd of 67,518 stormed the field and surrounded the team as they carried Floyd to the locker room after a fifth straight victory in the 113-game series.
“Our guys fought the full 60 (minutes), and that’s what it took,” said Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.
Iowa is now 5-1 in November home games at Kinnick Stadium against top 10 teams since 1999. This was the first one since a 55-24 victory against No. 3 Ohio State in 2017.
The Hawkeyes, 7-3 overall and 4-3 in the Big Ten, had lost to rated foes Michigan, Penn State, and Wisconsin this season by a collective 14 points. But it was Iowa’s turn Saturday.
“It’s a great feeling,” defensive end A.J. Epenesa said. “We’ve lost some close games in the past and there were things we could have done better, but we came out ready to go. We started strong and finished strong.”
Senior quarterback Nate Stanley led Iowa to touchdowns on its first three of possessions of the game. He now has 66 passing touchdowns, starting the scoring with a 21-yard strike to Nico Ragaini and adding a 5-yard connection to Ihmir Smith-Marsette to give Iowa a 20-3 lead in the second quarter.
In between, freshman Tyler Goodson made his first collegiate start and recorded his first rushing touchdown with a 10-yard scamper around right end. Goodson had 94 yards rushing in 13 carries.
“I was speechless when (running backs coach Derrick Foster) first told me (I was starting),” Goodson said. “For me, I didn’t focus on the fact that I was starting, but focused on the next play and tried to make an impact that would help our team win the game.”
The defense was on center stage at the end. Iowa was clinging to a 23-19 lead with 1:52 remaining when the Gophers took over at their own 20.
But Joe Evans sacked quarterback Tanner Morgan on first down, with an assist from A.J. Epenesa, for a 3-yard loss. Then Epenesa darted up the middle and sacked Morgan for an 8-yard loss. Morgan was injured on the play.
His backup, Cole Kramer, had his third-down pass to Rashod Bateman knocked down by Djimon Colbert. Then Riley Moss picked off Kramer’s pass intended for Chris Autmn-Bell and Iowa ended the game in victory formation.
Iowa finished with a season-high six sacks, the most by an Iowa defense since 2013 against Northwestern. Epenesa was credited with 2.5 sacks Saturday.
Minnesota finished with 431 yards of total offense, but the 19 points were a season low. The Gophers had scored at least 31 points in eight straight games.
“The bottom line, I’m just happy and proud of our guys,” Ferentz said. “It was a challenging week. This is what makes it fun.”
And Floyd of Rosedale sticks around for another season.
“I sure like looking at him,” Ferentz said.