Football in Iowa is nearing the Big Ten West title with late heroics against Minnesota

Iowa Hawkeyes quarterback Spencer Petras (7) dives for a touchdown in the first half of their Big Ten Conference Football game against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Saturday, November 19, 2022. (Jim Slosiarek/ The Newspaper)

MINNEAPOLIS — Literally, Iowa’s 13-10 win over Minnesota took place in a cold and windy Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

But metaphorically, it could have just as easily been in Champaign, Illinois, or even in the Indianapolis suburbs, given how much closer Iowa is en route to the Big Ten championship game in Indianapolis.

Iowa’s last-minute win over the Golden Gophers (7-4, 4-4), coupled with Illinois’ 19-17 loss in the closing seconds to No. 3 Michigan, moves the Hawkeyes (7-4, 5th :3) one win away from repeating themselves as Big Ten West champions.

True freshman Iowa kicker Drew Stevens nailed a 21-yard field goal with 28 seconds left to secure the win.

A Jack Campbell interception returning to the Minnesota 45 yard line set up the game-winning drive.

The first play of the game-winning drive was a 33-yard completion by Spencer Petras against Luke Lachey. From there, Iowa just had to let the ball run and force Minnesota to use up their timeouts.

Minnesota came close to breaking the 10-10 stalemate early in the fourth quarter. The Gophers had a 16-play, 88-yard drive that lasted nearly nine minutes and hit the red zone.

But a fumble from Mohamed Ibrahim, forced by Campbell and salvaged by Deontae Craig, halted the drive.

It was a rare mistake by a running back who set the record at Huntington Bank Stadium with 263 rushing yards.

Iowa, the school nicknamed the “Tight End U,” characteristically turned to its tight ends for much of Saturday’s production. In the first half, 50 percent of Petras’ goals and 70 percent of his finishes came up short.

Iowa star Sam LaPorta, an All-America contender, had four receptions on four goals for 95 yards before leaving the game with an injury.

Lachey finished the evening with five receptions on six targets for 77 yards, including the key reception on the game-winning drive.

Addison Ostrenga, a true freshman from Sun Prairie, Wisconsin, also contributed with his first career degree.

No other Iowa receiver had more than 21 yards.

Minnesota’s offense, meanwhile, produced good numbers on paper, but it didn’t always result in points.

Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis, a redshirt freshman, completed 47 percent of his passes. Ibrahim averaged 6.7 yards per carry; It was the 24th game of his career with at least 100 rushing yards, a program record.

But only 10 points were translated.

One of the Gophers’ longest drives of the day — 11 plays for 73 yards late in the first half — ended in a missed 34-yard field goal.

A 76-yard gopher drive in the second half resulted in just three points.

Saturday’s win marked the eighth straight Iowa to bring home the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy. Minnesota hasn’t beaten Iowa since 2014, though the Gophers still have a 62-52-2 lead in the all-time series.

Before the ride, which ended with Campbell being intercepted, speakers at Huntington Bank Stadium blared Pitbull’s hit song featuring Kesha, “Timber.”

“It’s going down,” the lyrics blared through the speakers as those remaining in a half-full student section sang along energetically. “I yell wood.”

Little did these Minnesota students know that the lyrics they sang along to described what would happen to Minnesota’s odds of winning. They were about to sink, or you could say wood.

Now Iowa has a chance to play for a Big Ten West title next week. The Hawkeyes have won the last seven games against the Cornhuskers.

If Iowa beats Nebraska, it will join Wisconsin in 2016 and 2017 as the only team to repeat as Big Ten West champions.

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