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Iowa's offensive attack dooms Minnesota

Iowa's offensive attack dooms Minnesota


IOWA CITY – Five things to think about after the Iowa football team handed Minnesota its first loss of the season, keeping Floyd of Rosedale south of the border for a fifth straight year:

1. The good

Iowa attacked offensively from the start, something that was by design to counter the productivity of the Minnesota offense.

The Hawkeyes put the ball in the hands of true freshman running back Tyler Goodson early and often in his first career start and Goodson responded, averaging 7.2 yards on his 13 carries.

His work included a a 26-yard gain on a third-down pitch that helped position Iowa to complete its first-game opening touchdown drive since Mekhi Sargent scored on a 4-yard run on Sept. 28 against Middle Tennessee, six games ago.

"We knew we were going to have to score points today,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "No mirage, the points they've scored, the yards they've had. We had tremendous respect and still do for their offensive football team. Felt like we had to kind of lay it out there a little bit more.''

The Hawkeyes collected points on their first three possessions of the game, with Goodson carrying five times for 45 yards on a drive which ended with his 10-yard carry into the end zone.

Redshirt freshman receiver Tyrone Tracy then caught three passes for 51 yards on drive that gave Iowa a 20-3 lead when quarterback Nate Stanley hit Ihmir Smith-Marsette for a 5-yard score with 6 minutes, 20 seconds left in the second quarter.

Tracy had a career-high seven catches for 77 yards Saturday and has caught 16 balls for 323 yards in his last four games.

2. The really good

The Hawkeye defense may have never looked so good in giving up 431 yards.

The quick decisions and quicker arm of quarterback Tanner Morgan were as menacing as expected, but the Hawkeyes countered with an aggressive defensive approach.

Iowa put the breaks on a Golden Gophers rushing attack which entered the game averaging 231 yards against Big Ten defenses, second to only Ohio State in league play.

Minnesota managed 63 yards on the ground against the Hawkeyes, the seventh time in 10 games Iowa has held its opponent below 100 rushing yards.

Six sacks, the most by Iowa in a game since recording that many against Northwestern in a game in 2013, helped keep the Gophers' offense off schedule.

3. The slide edge

Leading by four and knowing that Minnesota would be throwing the ball in the game's final minutes, Iowa shifted ends Chauncey Golston and A.J. Epenesa inside and placed Joe Evans and Daviyon Nixon at end spots.

That created a slight edge that allowed the Hawkeyes to take advantage of Minnesota's slide.

"The center would point and tell us where he's going and we were able to take advantage of that,'' Epenesa said, explaining it is not uncommon for that to happen, with quarterbacks calling out the middle linebacker and determining where the strong side is and what direction the play will slide to.

"We can take advantage of that,'' Epenesa said.

Iowa did, picking up a pair of sacks on first and second down that derailed the Gophers' last hope, knocking quarterback Tanner Morgan out of the game and ultimately recording a Riley Moss interception that finished things off.

4. The sprinter's speed

Neither may be quite ready for the Olympic Trials, but Iowa quarterback Nate Stanley and Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck put their quickness to work for different reasons Saturday.

Stanley displayed some quicks and a couple of moves when he ran for eight yards on a third-and-9 play to keep the Hawkeyes' game-opening touchdown drive alive and followed that by rushing for four yards on a third-and-1 carry to move the chains on Iowa's second scoring drive.

"That was a pretty slick move,'' Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "I didn't expect to see that, didn't know he had it in his pocket. Great to see.''

Fleck's sprint cost his team an unsportsmanlike penalty.

It came with just over a minute left in the third quarter when Tyler Johnson hit the turf hard following an incomplete pass by Tanner Morgan on a fourth-and-four play from the Iowa 14.

After the play was over, the Hawkeyes' Dane Belton was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct as was Fleck for dashing onto the field.

Both penalties came after the play had ended and Iowa would have taken over on downs regardless, but Fleck felt he didn't deserve the flag.

"I was told I ran out onto the field too fast,'' he said. "I didn't know there was a red light or green light. The whistle blew and the play was over. We had a motionless player on the ground so I ran out there. I'm 38 years old. I can still run.''

Fleck felt the situation cost his team valuable momentum, saying, "I cost us the game, but I'd do it again ... I know I run fast but our player was motionless on the ground. I wanted to get out there and be the first face he saw.''

5. The November advantage

Saturday's victory over seventh-ranked Minnesota was Iowa's fifth in six November games at Kinnick Stadium against a top-10 opponent in the past 15 years.

"The emotions from last week to this week are so different, but there's something special about being in Kinnick in November,'' Iowa strong safety Geno Stone said. "There's something about being here and playing great opponents that brings out the best in us.''

In the past 15 years, the Hawkeyes have taken down No. 9 Wisconsin 30-17 in 2004, No. 3 Penn State 24-23 in 2008, No. 2 Michigan 14-13 in 2016, No. 3 Ohio State 55-24 in 2017 and No. 7 Minnesota 23-19 on Saturday.

Iowa's only November loss at home to a top-10 opponent in that timeframe came in 2010 by a 20-17 score to No. 7 Ohio State.


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