COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Late turnovers, early miscues end in Gophers’ loss to Iowa
Minnesota has now lost 7 straight against its border rival
MINNEAPOLIS — The Gophers football program will be haunted by its 13-10 loss to Iowa on Saturday.
Minnesota had two late offensive drives into Hawkeyes territory end in giveaways — Mo Ibrahim’s fumble and Athan Kaliakmanis’ tipped interception — and Iowa went on to make a 21-yard field goal to win it with 28 seconds left.
The Floyd of Rosedale rivalry trophy is nearly 100 pounds, but the weight of not having won it once will continue to put stress on the back of head coach P.J. Fleck and the entire Minnesota program. The Gophers have lost eight straight to Iowa since 2014, including six under Fleck since 2017.
Iowa (6-4, 5-3) didn’t turn the ball over Saturday and stays in control of winning the Big Ten West Division, while killing off Minnesota (7-4, 4-4 Big Ten) and its outside chances in the process.
With the score tied 10-10 in the fourth quarter, the Gophers drove 88 yards, and Ibrahim was doing the heavy lifting. But on his 37th carry, he fumbled in the red zone.
Ibrahim might have made a crucial mistake, but the sixth-year senior kept them in the game with a stunning 263 rushing yards on 39 carries against a high-quality Hawkeyes defense.
Iowa’s offense didn’t do anything with the takeaway, and Minnesota had another shot. But after a few rushes, a Kaliakmanis pass on third-and-7 was tipped and intercepted by Hawkeyes All-America linebacker Jack Campbell. He also forced Ibrahim’s fumble.
After Campbell’s 30-yard return, quarterback Spencer Petras found Luke Lachey wide open for a 33-yard completion to set up the game-winning kick.
Minnesota’s last-ditch drive went nowhere.
While late turnovers were the final blows, early miscues by the Gophers also did significant damage.
In the second quarter, Kaliakmanis didn’t see a wide-open Brevyn Spann-Ford in the flat and nearly threw an interception trying to force a ball into coverage. While it fell incomplete, if he had found his tight end, Minnesota might have taken the lead.
Then instead of going for it on fourth-and-1, Trickett’s 35-yard field goal with the wind at his back went wide right, and the Gophers trailed 10-7 at the half.
They had nothing to show for an 11-play, 73-yard drive, and given the recent history between these two rivals, it was clear that sequence would come back to bite Minnesota.
Miscues from the start were also damaging. Iowa was dead last among Power Five programs in explosive plays this season, but produced one on its first play of the game.
Linebacker Cody Lindeberg blitzed off the edge, while linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin and safety Tyler Nubin went wide with the Hawkeyes’ jet sweep action to the edge. It left the middle of the field wide open for a tight end screen to Sam LaPorta. After he rumbled 58 yards, the Gophers’ defense was able to hold Iowa to a 38-yard field goal and 3-0 lead.
On fourth down on the next drive, linebacker Braelen Oliver couldn’t sack Petras, and he found LaPorta for another explosive play, this one for 24 yards. A few plays later, Petras scored on a sneak to stake a 10-0 lead.
A slow start by the Gophers’ defense put pressure on their offense that wasn’t able to finish late.
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