Iowa put together a thoroughly dominating performance once again (though the scoreboard didn't really show it) and downed the Gophers. After a week of talk about how even these teams were and how Minnesota would be able to match Iowa's pound the ball nature, it turned out that this game wasn't close to evenly matched. Iowa was able to move the ball well on offense and the D completely shut down Minnesota. Take out the poor kick coverage and the inability to finish drives and we might be looking at another 55-0 type of game.
Keep playing physical
The left side of Iowa's offensive line were just mashers. They opened up hole after hole for Mark Weisman and just beat down the Gophers again and again. Iowa finished with over 200 rushing yet again...Weisman with 147. The pounding ground page opened some things up for Jake Rudock. The 35-yard play action to fullback Adam Cox was a thing of beauty as the Gophers had sold out against the run.
The defense was really physical up front as well. Minnesota had no room to run and only had 30 rushing yards all day. Louis Trinca-Pasat and Dominic Alvis led the way up front. And then the 3 linebackers were there to clean up. I mentioned on Friday that the linebackers would be a big difference in this game, and that turned out to be true. The 3 combined for 23 tackles, 1.5 TFL, a sack and 2 INTs. Flip sides, and it was Minnesota's safeties that were racking up the tackles, not the LBs as Iowa was able to get to the second level a lot in the running game.
Make the Gophers pass
Because Iowa was able to stop Minnesota's running, they did force the Gophers to pass. And as predicted, that went heavily in Iowa's favor. Philip Nelson struggled to hit receivers even when they were open, often times missing badly. This resulted in a lot of incompletions (he was just 12 of 24) and a couple of interceptions (and B.J. Lowery had his hands on a couple that he should have picked off). Nelson managed to gain just 135 yards through the air and was not able to extend drives. Minnesota's longest drive of the day was just 34 yards when they got a short field thanks to a good kick return. No other drive went further than 25 yards.
Convert on third down
While Iowa was dominant in pretty much every facet of the game, I think the straw that broke the camel's back in this game was third down conversions. In the second half, Iowa pretty much went to the default a run on first, run on second, pass on third down and was able to sustain long clock chewing drives. Iowa's shortest drive in the second half was 7 play, 4:00 and that is only because the game clock ran out. Total, Iowa ran 41 plays and ran off over 20 minutes in the second half. So, though they only scored 6 points (to Minnesota's 7), the Gophers didn't really have any shot of a come back, because they barely had the ball.
Some kind of big play
HE'S SO FAST! That's what I was shouting as Powell streaked down the field. For a split second he was in some traffic and the next he was so far out of reach that all the Gophers could do was kind of jog toward the endzone to make it look like they hadn't given up. Much like the flea-flicker last year, the tunnel screen call came at the perfect time and was demoralizing to the Gophers. Iowa caught Minnesota in a blitz with no deep help and was able to get 5 guys out in front of Powell blocking the way. It also extended Iowa's half time lead to 17 instead of 10, which was more than enough to seal the deal. Powell is now averaging over 50 yards per catch, which is just ridiculous.
This is really now 4 weeks in a row that Iowa has had a dominant performance. It hasn't always shown up on the scoreboard as Iowa hasn't been the best at finishing drives or finishing games. But this team looks so much better than last year. The funny thing about it, is that we thought the offense would be better by fully transitioning over to a Greg Davis scheme, but it has turned out better by going back to an offense maybe even more simple than what Ken O'Keefe ever ran. It is straight up zone running with lots of tight end and fullback. The only real difference is the no-huddle thing.
And for now, let's celebrating being the leaders of the Legends Division! 1-0 in the B1G.