When Iowa Football combines brains with brawn, it’s tough to beat. The formula works for most teams but it’s even more important for the Hawkeyes.
Last week in a 49-7 victory against Michigan State, they reclaimed their identity. They built on that Friday night in a 35-7 domination of rival Minnesota in the Battle for Floyd of Rosedale. That marked their sixth win in a row and 16th in the last 20 installments of this storied series.
It wasn’t always pretty or perfect. But it looked light years better than during a Week 1 loss at Purdue when Iowa fumbled away the ball twice and committed 10 penalties. The following game, it inexplicably threw the ball 51 times and ran on only 23 occasions in a setback against Northwestern.
Friday, the Hawkeyes established the running game early with Tyler Goodson sprinting through holes, some of which were wide enough for my 53-year-old, overweight body to slip through. The offense line played with an edge and through the whistle. The Golden Gophers were demoralized.
It looked like Iowa Football. Its foundation has been built on imposing its will even when the opponents know the boom is coming.
Goodson is a delight to watch. He runs with good quickness, wiggle, patience, vision and surprising power for a relatively smaller back. When he’s fed, he eats.
The coaches handed it to him early and often Friday. The offensive front anchored by left tackle Alaric Jackson and center Tyler Linderbaum opened up large running lanes.
Offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz mixed up formations, motion and play calls masterfully early in this game. The Hawkeyes opened the contest with a seven-play, 64-yard touchdown drive. They engineered 12-play, 85-yard scoring march in the second quarter, which sent them to halftime with a 14-0 lead.
The advantage seemed even bigger because of how dominant coordinator Phil Parker’s defense was playing. Late in the opening half, Minnesota had just 76 yards of offense and 75 penalty yards. The Hawkeyes lost just 25 yards on two penalties before the break.
The Gophers punted three times, were intercepted and turned the ball over on downs in five first-half offensive possessions. Their first three possessions of the second half went punt, missed field goal and interception. They came into the evening averaging 36.3 points (fourth in Big Ten) and 439.3 yards (second to Ohio State).
Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim entered action pacing the nation in rushing yards per game (190.3) and touchdowns (10). He finished with 144 yards on 33 carries and likely will be feeling the effects of the hits he absorbed Friday.
The Hawkeye D is rounding into form after replacing key players like A.J. Epenesa, Michael Ojemudia, Kristian Welch and Geno Stone off of last year’s unit. Defensive end Zach VanValkenburg and Seth Benson are improving by the week, and Jack Campbell, who missed the first three games with mono, looks like he’s going to be a welcome addition based on Friday’s play.
Iowa is operating with great tempo on defense and it’s improving, while somewhat inconsistent, on the other side of the ball. You can see the confidence rising.
Goodson, a Georgia native, showed he can carry the load during a frigid November night in the Big Ten, finishing with a career-best 142 rushing yards two touchdowns on 20 carries. He’s earned more work and proven he can be the focal point of an offense.
You may be saying you already knew that. You may be lamenting the Northwestern loss that saw him underutilized. You may be frustrated about your team being 2-2 with two losses by a total of five points instead of leading the West Division.
Don’t do that to yourself. It’s 2020. Anything can happen, good or bad.
Let’s see how the rest of it unfolds. Iowa can win out. It also could stumble. You know your Hawkeyes.
It’s rewarding to see these guys pick themselves up from two excruciating losses instead of folding. The accomplishment is even more impressive considering the circumstances of this year. Enjoy it.