Iowa Hawkeyes @ Minnesota Golden Gophers Football Recap
Minnesota 27, Iowa 24
Underachievement is a hard thing to endure for a fan base and a terrible reality for a team that had the components of a formidable football force. Yet, the “U-word” has to be used in conjunction with the nation’s most disappointing team in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Before the start of the 2010 college football season, the Iowa Hawkeyes were viewed as national championship material. At the end of the 2010 college football regular season, the Hawkeyes have five losses to their name and will be headed to a third-tier bowl game. Texas and Florida gain silver and bronze medals, respectively, but the gold-medal underachiever in the FBS this year was most definitely coach Kirk Ferentz’s club. Iowa cemented its place as the biggest dud in the United States over the past three months by somehow failing to beat the abysmal Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis.
The Hawkeyes had absolutely no business losing their grip on Floyd of Rosedale, the statuesque pig given to the winner of this annual trophy game, but sure enough, when this contest ended at TCF Bank Stadium, the men of Minnesota were able to march across the field, storm the Iowa bench, and pluck the pig they hadn’t claimed as their own since 2006.
It was all so shocking: Minnesota endured a coach firing this year, as Tim Brewster got axed in the middle of the season, making way for interim boss Jeff Horton as the caretaker of the program for the past few weeks. Minnesota did beat Illinois on the road, but hey, that’s the Ron Zook factor kicking in. Heading into this game, the Gophers’ only other win in 2010 was a season-opening triumph against a Middle Tennessee team that was playing without its best player, quarterback Dwight Dasher, who was suspended due to questions surrounding his acceptance of a loan from a booster. The Gophers had a thin-gruel resume this season, and beyond that reality, they had been outscored 67-0 by Iowa in the last two meetings between these schools. The final U of M game played in the Metrodome, before TCF Bank Stadium opened in 2009 to great fanfare, was a 55-0 loss to an Iowa team that was still very young at the time. That young 2008 Iowa squad was now a bunch of seasoned veterans that had already come together to dominate in 2009 and smash Georgia Tech in the 2010 Orange Bowl. Iowa had most of its key players coming back in 2010 for what seemed to be one last run at the brass ring. Armed with defensive coordinator Norm Parker – one of the five best defensive minds in college football – Iowa had both the manpower and the brainpower to chase a championship.
Now, after turning two straight shutouts of Minnesota into a come-from-ahead three-point loss, the Hawkeyes have fallen to 7-5 at the tail-end of their tailspin into irrelevance. A sluggish Iowa club woke up long enough to grab a 24-20 lead, but when the Gophers’ Duane Bennett powered his way into the end zone from six yards out with 4:31 left, Horton’s heroes snatched a three-point advantage. Just seconds later, Iowa’s Marcus Coker fumbled and Minnesota’s Ryan Collado recovered the pill. The Gophers then pounded out two first downs to hold the ball for the final four minutes. All in all, the Hawkeyes ran one offensive play in the final nine minutes to lose to a team that finished its season at 3-9. That’s how far the Hawkeyes have fallen, and that’s how stunning the fourth quarter of this contest turned out to be.
Iowa seemed to be a near shoo-in for a BCS bowl on Labor Day. Now, the Hawks would be fortunate to go to the Alamo Bowl.
Yes, there is no more disappointing team in college football in 2010. It’s going to be a long, cold winter in Iowa City.