MINNEAPOLIS – Iowa has played two games at TCF Bank Stadium, both as a double-digit favorite. The Hawkeyes return Saturday looking for their first victory ever at the fifth-year home of Minnesota football.
Can you say ouch, times two? Ouch, as in humbling, unexplainable losses of 27-24 in 2010 and 22-21 in 2011?
“Part of that is a credit to them, but part of the blame lies at our feet, too,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz admitted this week. “If we play like we did the last two games, we’re not going to win the game. I’ll make that prediction right now.”
Take that forecast to the bank.
Iowa and Minnesota tee it up in Saturday’s 2:30 p.m. Big Ten opener chasing year-long rights to Floyd of Rosedale. And, more importantly, getting the league season off on the right foot.
The Hawkeyes came to this stadium ranked 24th in the nation in 2010. The Gophers had an interim coach, two wins and had been outscored by Iowa in the previous two games, 67-0. Minnesota used a successful onside kick to take a 10-0 lead, then rallied with a 77-yard touchdown drive that ended with 4 minutes 31 seconds remaining in the game.
Jerry Kill’s first Minnesota team entered the 2011 game with two victories. Iowa had a 21-10 lead early in the fourth quarter. Marcus Coker was nearly unstoppable, rushing for 252 yards that is the third-best one-game effort in school history. And Iowa lost. The winning drive came after Minnesota successfully recovered an on-side kick.
Iowa got a measure of revenge last season at Kinnick Stadium, taking a 24-0 halftime lead and winning, 31-13.
“They physically whipped our butt a year ago,” Kill said this week.
Saturday’s game better have Iowa’s undivided attention. Minnesota is 4-0 for the second straight season, but this is a much better team than the one the Hawkeyes dominated last season.
Iowa’s not ranked, didn’t go to a bowl game last season and has a six-game conference losing streak. Yet the Hawkeyes will probably take the field as the betting favorite. Oddsmakers listed Iowa as a 2-point favorite as of Friday afternoon.
“Certainly we’re going to have to be a lot more ready than we were the last two trips,” Ferentz said.
That’s another spot-on prediction.
Rick Brown is a 10-time Iowa Sportswriter of the Year and covers Hawkeye football and basketball for the Register. Follow him on Twitter from Minneapolis: @ByRickBrown.
Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football