Iowa escapes with Floyd, controls destiny west

Floyd of Rosedale will be residing in Iowa City for another year after one of the most incredible sequences to end a game. The win coupled with Illinois’ loss to Michigan earlier in the day gives the Hawkeyes a clear lead going into the final week of the season. Escape from Minneapolis with Floyd, Iowa now controls its own destiny in the Big Ten West with a 13-10 win over the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

The sequence

The fumble

In a 16-play, 88-yard drive that lasted nearly nine minutes through the end of the fourth quarter, Minnesota carved its way into Iowa’s red zone. The Hawkeyes had no answers for that mohammad ibrahim, who wore it 14 times on this trip. His performance that day was simply extraordinary. Ibrahim finished the tournament with 263 yards for 39 carries and a touchdown. He was getting nearly seven yards per touch, and Iowa’s defense struggled to contain him. Ibrahim’s dominance all day was a big reason for Minnesota’s 399 total yards.

However, Iowa eventually made a game-changing game. At his 14th wearing the ride, Jack Camell forced an Ibrahim fumble at the Hawkeyes’ nine-yard line. The huge shift in momentum negated a ride that felt like a touchdown was inevitable. Up until this fumble, Minnesota had commanded possession time. Her previous two trips at this point added up to 12:30, while the previous two from Iowa only took 1:30. The Hawkeye defense was on the field for over 11 minutes in the fourth quarter.

After the fumble, Iowa proceeded to go three and out and stab it back. But the momentum shift happened. Minnesota retained possession at their own 45-yard line with four minutes remaining in regulation time. The 10-10 draw back then made that possession feel like it could be the final drive of the game.

The interception

Again the gophers went back to Ibrahim. A 19-yard chunk play got things going in the right direction for them. Then, three games later, Athan Kaliakmanis forced a pass that was tipped in the air and intercepted by Campbell. The middle linebacker returned the ball 75 yards in what appeared to be a pick six. Officials shut out Campbell at the Minnesota 45-yard line, negating the result. The call was very questionable as the replay showed a clear strip of green grass between his foot and the touchline. Regardless, Iowa took over with two minutes remaining.

Instantly, Spencer Petras attached to Luke Lachey on a 33-yard pass to set the Hawkeyes up in the red zone. Iowa ticked down the clock in run plays and set up a field goal to win. Despite Kicker’s unwanted icing on the cake Drew Stevens, Kirk Ferentz Time out didn’t matter and Stevens made the second try. Iowa took a 13-10 lead and played 30 seconds of defense to secure the win.

Early start

The first two drives of the game ended in points, giving the Hawkeyes an early 10-0 lead. The drives consisted of 59 and 66 yards and Sam Laporta was the workhorse. On Iowa’s first pull from scrimmage, Petras found LaPorta for 58 yards. Passing success was there all day for Petras, who rushed for 221 yards and completed 15 of 24. He had no touchdowns or interceptions, but did get one on the ground to round out the team’s 66 yards, the game’s second drive.

LaPorta left the game late in the first quarter with an injury and did not return. His first-quarter stats were four receptions for 95 yards. Lachey effectively filled in his absence. He caught five for 77 yards, including the big pass play late in the game. Petras found seven receivers that day and his performance was one of the best of the season.

Small mistakes

After the opening two results, Iowa’s next six possessions ended with five punts and the end of the second quarter. Drives totaled 114 yards and the offense wasn’t at a consistent rhythm. Minnesota tied the game at 10 midway through the third quarter, and Iowa needed some momentum. Her subsequent drive involved three plays of 10 or more yards in a row. An 11-yard pass was followed by two runs of 17 and 21 yards. It put the Hawkeyes at Gopher’s 26-yard line. The next snap went over Petras’ head, resulting in a 10-yard loss. He ended up forcing a punt from the Minnesota 36-yard line.

That wasn’t the only problem with the exchange that day. Two plays after Iowa’s opening pass from 58 yards on her first possession, a snap from Petras put her out of the red zone. Iowa recovered the loose ball and finished the drive with three points. It wasn’t a critical bug, but things like this can change the outcome of low-scoring fights late in the season.

Iowa didn’t have a penalty all afternoon or give up a single sack. It was an overall much improved play from the offensive line. Iowa only rushed 50 yards, but they could succeed in the air when it counted. More importantly, the Hawkeyes were able to force sales in two critical situations.

Iowa escapes with Floyd, controls destiny west

Just four weeks ago, Iowa had been written off. The 3-4 start with three straight losses blurred the rest of the season. Many hoped for changes in the coaching staff. Ferentz stuck by his staff and his team and continued through the 12-game season. The dramatic finish in Minneapolis now makes it eight straight wins in this long-running rivalry. More importantly, it opens the door wide for the Hawkeyes to repeat themselves in the Big Ten West. A home win against Nebraska next week secures the division. The Iowa Hawkeyes have their destiny in their own hands in the Big Ten West, and another successful November follows.

This historically dominant defense ranks in the top five in many statistical categories. The Special Teams unit was more than effective both offensively and defensively for the punt team. ToryTaylor is among the best in the country and its gunners continue to help pin the ball deep. There were fights offensively. However, Petras makes plays when they’re needed, and the 280-yard performance against Minnesota came almost entirely from his arm. With a week remaining in the regular season, Iowa is one win away from a third Big Ten West title and second straight.

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