What we learned: Iowa 17, Minnesota 10
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Floyd of Rosedale is staying in the Hawkeye State.
Iowa beat Minnesota, 17-10, Saturday in front of 66,292 fans on a chilly night at Kinnick Stadium. (That final score's getting pretty familiar, isn't it?) The Hawkeyes have won five of the past six games against the Gophers.
Here's what we learned:
Offense couldn't do too much. Defense could: Iowa opened the game with a five-play, 80-yard touchdown drive to jump ahead, 7-0. Could a recently sputtering Iowa offense keep it up and lead a blowout rivalry win?
Um ... not really, no. After that dominant first drive, the Hawkeyes offense mostly struggled to put convincing drives together. The unit finished with 12 fewer plays than Minnesota and a 3-for-14 clip on third downs.
"I think it was just coming back to execution stuff we talk about all the way up to the point. It tailed off a bit," Nate Stanley said, addressing the slow offense. "But it picked back up again in the second half."
But Iowa's defense picked up the slack, again. It was on the field for 31 minutes and 13 seconds, but still held the Gophers to 281 yards and a 4-of-16 clip on third downs. It particularly stifled Demry Croft, who completed just 9 of 29 passes for 139 yards and a pick. He also netted zero yards on 11 carries. Anthony Nelson effectively ended the game by sacking Croft for a turnover on downs with 56 seconds left.
This is the sixth straight game Iowa has held an opponent under 20, and it's the fourth game it's held an opponent to 10 or fewer points.
"That starts in practice with our preparation," said Josh Jackson, who tipped a pass for Jake Gervase's end-zone interception in the first. "We had a really good week of practice, running to the ball and finishing plays.
"That's what we wanted to do today. Just make sure we finish."
Are we witnessing the end of the overthrow?: Arguably, Stanley's biggest bug-a-boo all year has been the overthrow. On Saturday, he had only one bad one on a broken-play pass to Matt VandeBerg in the second quarter. Other than that, the true sophomore's deep balls were crisp. He flicked a 35-yard dime in the first to Ihmir Smith-Marsette (who let the ball bounce off his face mask for an interception). He also lobbed a perfect-10, 45-yard rainbow to Noah Fant for a touchdown in the first third-quarter possession.
In a game that was mostly iffy for the offense, Stanley quietly assembled a solid line: 15-for-27 for 190 yards, one touchdown and one bounce-off-face-mask interception.
Plus, the guy's using his legs better: Also, Stanley played on the run pretty effectively. He connected with T.J. Hockenson for 22 yards on a rollout pass on Iowa's first play. And after hesitating to run for a first down on Iowa's second possession, Stanley gained 15 yards on three carries. His previous seven rushing totals this year? Four carries for minus-23 yards, two for 2, two for minus-5, four for 2, six for minus-7, three for 1 and three for minus-9.
Brian Ferentz might have a temper: So, James Butler fumbled after a 19-yard catch-and-run with 1:40 left in the first half. He was initially called down, but after review, it was ruled that a Gopher defender stripped Butler before he was down. Minnesota recovered and took over at its 21. It didn't score, but Iowa very well might have had Butler not fumbled.
Hawkeyes offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz wasn't pleased. As he left the coaches' box to head down to the locker room at halftime, he could be heard shouting expletives while seemingly expressing frustration at the review that gave Minnesota the ball. It was interesting, to say the least.
No redshirt for James Butler: It's now or never for Butler. Head coach Kirk Ferentz had toyed with the idea of redshirting the graduate transfer, who'd been out for five weeks with a dislocated elbow. But there he was Saturday night, taking his first snaps in the second quarter with a big ol' brace on his arm. Butler finished with 28 yards on 11 carries. Akrum Wadley added 70 yards on 16 carries.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, The Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewBain_.