Gophers Dig 1st Half Hole @ Iowa… Bury Themselves in 2nd

If everyone came into this game between the Minnesota Gophers and Iowa Hawkeyes as confident as I did, then you probably felt like you were punched in the face by the time the 1st quarter came to an end. The second quarter didn’t get any better.

Backwards from the beginning.

From the first kickoff, this game was absolutely backwards. You expected the Gophers to come out and use their play action and elite wide receivers to put pressure on the Iowa defense that they hadn’t seen yet this year. But… the exact opposite happened.. and the Hawkeyes started throwing the ball like they’ve actually known how to all season… like these assholes were waiting all year just to show us a “new and improved” Iowa offense. And, the Gophers were more perplexed at what they were seeing than anyone who was watching on TV.

On the other side of the ball, the Gophers looked like Iowa, who hasn’t been able to punch the ball into the end zone all year. The Hawkeyes came in as one of the worst teams in the Big Ten in red zone offense, finishing just 1/3 of those opportunities into touchdowns. In the first half, Iowa scored 3 touchdowns in 3 red zone opportunities. The Gophers… 0/2.

Redzone Struggles were real

The Gophers had a few highlights, don’t get me wrong. When they were throwing the ball, it was moving. But, they struggled in the red zone and Bateman dropped a ball that he normally never would, that cost another red zone appearance. With the offense sputtering, the defense needed to step up and they didn’t. As stated earlier, they were bad. The missed tackles and the penalties were weird as fuck to watch…

The Gophers needed to improve at just about every level if they were going to come back in the second half. They started with the ball and a 20-6 deficit.

And, that’s exactly what happened. We saw a different football team come out for the Gophers in the 2nd half. The defense was better. The offense was better. Everyone was better. It was the team we all expected to take the field when the game started.

In too deep…

The Gophers were a much better team in the 2nd half but couldn’t stop shooting themselves in the foot, as they tried to complete the comeback. You can start with the dropped slant from Tyler Johnson that turned a 1st and goal into a turnover on downs. Immediately after, Fleck got called for unsportsmanlike conduct for running onto the field. It didn’t stop there, though. After scoring a TD with just a few minutes remaining, we missed the extra point, turning a 3-point game into a 4-point one, that now needed a TD to win.

That led to a questionable onside kick with 3 minutes left. But even then, the defense got the stop they needed and put the ball back in Tanner Morgan’s hands, at the 20, with 1:52 remaining. Unfortunately, the drive didn’t even get started. Two sacks and an injured Tanner Morgan later, Freshman, Cole Kramer was in the game.  He gave it two great attempts but the Gophers couldn’t complete a pass on 3rd or 4th and long. The game was over… along with the Gophers’ perfect season.

This one hurts. It’s difficult to think about how much is still left to win for these Gophers… hopefully tomorrow will feel better. At least it’s not 2002.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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