In a game that many expected would be a rout, it turned out to be a colossal upset. The Minnesota Golden Gophers won their first conference game of the season with a 22-21 win over Iowa.
Going scoreless in the first quarter, wide receiver Marvin McNutt got touchdown reception No. 25 and finally put Iowa on the board with just five minutes remaining in the first half.
With over a minute left, Minnesota joined the scoring party and got its first touchdown of the game.
The teams entered halftime tied 7-7; however, it should have been 14-7 Iowa but kicker Mike Meyer failed to show up, missing two field goal attempts.
Obviously Meyer forgot about last season’s Iowa vs. Wisconsin game. While it’s good to forget poor sports performances, Meyer’s missed field goals in the first half again contributed to an Iowa loss.
Iowa quarterback James Vandenberg had two sacks and in the first half, he was a measly 10 for 14 with 87 yards. Minnesota’s quarterback Marquis Gray fared better: going 5 for 6 with 97 yards.
Minnesota’s defense looked good and allowed Iowa only one of six third-down conversions; however, it did lead to Iowa’s first touchdown.
The one bright spot in the first half was running back Marcus Coker’s dominate 19 carries for 187 yards.
Iowa attempted to make adjustments and with Coker’s touchdown at the 8:44 mark in the third quarter, he helped Iowa regain the lead while hitting the 200-yard mark.
The Hawkeyes took its largest lead of the game, 21-10, at the top of the fourth quarter with a one-yard touchdown run from Coker. The game looked like a done deal for the visitors.
But not so fast.
Minnesota got back in the game after a turnover caused by Vandenberg. It was an off day for the usually error-free quarterback. The Golphers tried for a two-point conversion and missed. It was now a 21-16 game and a momentum change for Minnesota.
For Iowa, this is when the wheels really started to come off.
With 2:48 remaining, the Gophers took its first lead of the game with a touchdown run by Gray.
Panic embraced Iowa and with 2:32 left, the Hawkeyes attempted a fourth-down conversion and failed. I am not sure what Iowa’s long-time offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe was thinking but his last-chance playcalling was horrendous.
Really, playing tight end Brad Herman and running back Jason White in the last two minutes when your team is losing? To Minnesota.
What about McNutt and Coker?
Gray ran the clock out and that’s all she wrote.
One of the few positives from the game was again, Coker. He had a career-high 32 carries for 252 yards.
McNutt also had a good day with 7 receptions for 101 yards and 1 carry for 19 yards.
And for the day, Vandenberg was 16 for 24 with 177 yards.
Iowa faces an extremely difficult November schedule. If they play like they did on Saturday, Hawkeye fans won’t see another win this season playing against Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue and Nebraska.
Sorry McNutt, I don’t see a decent bowl game for you in this final season.
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Written by Debbie Baratz