Kirk Ferentz vs. Minnesota has been a mostly one-sided affair over the years and against the Gophers on Saturday night, it was more of the same.
Iowa has won six of its last seven games against Minnesota and under Ferentz, the Hawks are 14-6 in games for Floyd. That’s pretty good.
This honestly happens to be one of my favorite rivalry games. There’s just something fun about beating Minnesota, especially at home. Of course, the fact there’s a trophy in the game probably exacerbates that — trophies are fun and good and sports should have more of them — but wins against the Gophers have been some of my favorite memories.
Granted, of course, Minnesota hasn’t been all that good in the past 20 years, but still. This one is always a good one to get.
And this week, Iowa needed that boost. Coming off a loss — and a bye week — the Hawkeyes had a lot of time to think about that Wisconsin game. It still sucks and I don’t know why I keep thinking about it, but I do. I also overreacted a little bit after it — though I still will remain steadfast in that I didn’t need a xanax.
This season isn’t over and while this game was a little closer than it needed to be, Iowa’s now 4-1 on the year. That’s good. Under Kirk Ferentz, the Hawkeyes have been 4-1 after five games six times. Two of those seasons ended in double-digit wins, two were eight-win seasons and the other two were six and seven win years.
Just one of those times (2006) Iowa finished under .500 and I’d argue this team is significantly more talented than that squad.
There’s still plenty on the table for the Hawkeyes, especially with a manageable schedule in their immediate future. A dangerous, but altogether mediocre Indiana team is up next week, with Maryland to follow.
Iowa very well might be 6-1 when they head to State College, which is probably a little better than a lot of us thought they might be. But that’s thinking perhaps a bit too far ahead.
For right now, I think the major takeaway from this game is that Iowa’s passing offense might just be for real. After struggling against Iowa State, the Hawkeyes have put together three-straight games in which they’ve looked more than competent throwing the ball.
Now, is that due to Iowa’s struggles in the running game? Perhaps. And while I think going into panic mode over the Hawkeyes relatively pedestrian rushing numbers might not be the best course of action, it’s still an area to watch.
But back to Iowa’s passing attack. Nate Stanley had his third career 300-yard passing game. It’s also his 10th career multi-touchdown game and his third straight. That, to me, seems like sustained production.
The best part? He didn’t have to rely on just his tight ends. Brandon Smith was targeted five times and caught all of them for 68 yards. Nick Easley had six catches on eight targets for 52 yards and a touchdown.
They were Iowa’s top-two receivers, which was very nice to see. That hasn’t happened a whole lot over the past few seasons and it’s especially nice to see the coaching staff’s patience with Smith start to play off. He’s always been a good blocker and being a real threat down field is an important step for him to take.
Elsewhere around the offense, TJ Hockenson is a running back now.
According to Morehouse, this play is called ‘Herky’ and is now my favorite trick play. (Sorry, Polecat!)
I’ve probably watched that play about 50 times and I’m still wondering what led to them coming up with it. I hope someone at Iowa’s media availability on Tuesday asks about it.
So, I think, that about does it. Sure, there’s probably more to say about Iowa’s defense, which had some ups-and-downs starting two (!!!) true freshman cornerbacks in their first real college action.
Iowa’s defensive line looked solid and racked up five total sacks. Still a lot of good there. Jack Hockaday’s injury? Amani Jones’ targeting call? Maybe a bit more to worry about. But we’ll do that at a later day.
Time to celebrate Floyd returning to his rightful home.