IOWA CITY, Iowa – Kinnick Stadium was the scene of two historic victories on Saturday.
Just hours after the Iowa wrestling team had prevailed against top-ranked Oklahoma State in the first outdoor match ever held at Kinnick Stadium, the Iowa football team defeated Minnesota 40-35 to improve to 10-0 for the first time in school history.
“They should feel really proud of that,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said of his players. “It’s significant, there is no question about that. It was significant last week to go 9-0 and match that 2009 team.
“But to push it to 10-0, I think it feels pretty good. I think we’re all so focused on the moment, quite frankly, that it’ll sink in. All those things are things you’ll relish a little bit more in the out of season. Right now, I just think we’re kind of thinking of where we’re at today and maybe where we’re headed tomorrow.”
Junior running back LeShun Daniels rushed for a career-high 195 yards and three touchdowns as the Hawkeyes scored at least 30 points in four consecutive Big Ten games for the first time ever. Daniels’ final touchdown came on a 51-yard run with 2 minutes, 1 seconds left to play and with Iowa leading 33-28.
“I was feeling pretty good today,” said Daniels, who has been slowed by an ankle injury that he sustained in the second game of the season against Iowa State. “The training staff has just done a great job with me and I was just feeling better throughout practice this week.
“And, obviously, I think it showed throughout the game.”
Minnesota needed only 45 seconds to score its final touchdown, which came on a 3-yard run by Shannon Brooks with 1:16 left to play.
But without any timeouts remaining, the Gophers were helpless as Iowa ran out the clock to secure the historic victory before a sellout crowd of 70,585.
Iowa finished with 506 total yards and 27 first downs, but also surrendered 434 yards to the Gophers, who fell to 4-6 on the season. Minnesota scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter on drives that lasted less than one minute.
The Hawkeyes could clinch at least a share of the Big Ten West Division title with a victory over Purdue next Saturday on Senior Day at Kinnick Stadium. Iowa would win the West Division outright with victories over Purdue and Nebraska in the regular-season finale.
“We want to win it outright,” Ferentz said. “That’s our goal.”
Junior quarterback C.J. Beathard passed for 213 yards and rushed for 50 yards while improving his record to 11-0 as Iowa’s starting quarterback.
“It’s awesome,” Beathard said of being 10-0 for the first time in school history. “It’s a tribute to how hard this team has worked this offseason and all season long. We’ve put in a lot of work and continue to get better as the season as goes on.
“But we’re not satisfied with where we are right now. We want to keep winning.”
Beathard was examined on the field after being injured on a quarterback sneak in the fourth quarter. He walked to the bench on his own power and was replaced by redshirt freshman Tyler Wiegers for just one play.
Beathard described the injury as a hip pointer after the game.
"I’ll be sore tomorrow that’s for sure," said Beathard, who has been hobbled by injuries for most of the season, although, he ran well on Saturday before suffering the hip pointer.
Iowa was leading 24-14 when senior kicker Marshall Koehn made a 38-yard field with 8:04 left in the third quarter.
Minnesota trimmed the lead to six points (27-21) on its next offensive possession, driving 75 yards for a touchdown on 14 plays. Junior running back Rodrick Williams scored the touchdown a 1-yard run with 1:05 left in the third quarter.
Iowa defensive back Desmond King returned the ensuing kick 58 yards to the Gopher 37-yard line. Beathard then completed a 29-yard pass to senior receiver Tevaun Smith, who was tackled at the Minnesota 1. Beathard scored on the next play on a 1-yard quarterback sneak, giving Iowa a 33-21 with 14:30 left to play.
The Hawkeyes tried for a 2-point conversion, but Beathard was tackled short of the end zone.
After forcing Minnesota to punt on its next possession, Iowa took over at its own 20-yard line. Beathard completed a 24-yard pass to tight end George Kittle on first down.
Iowa then used some trickery as receiver Smith completed a 21-yard pass to fellow receiver Matt VandeBerg, giving Iowa a first down at the Gopher 35. Smith is the first Iowa receiver to complete a pass since Clinton Solomon had a completion against Minnesota in 2005.
However the drive stalled and Koehn barely missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.
Minnesota then used a trick play to score its next touchdown as running back Shannon Brooks completed a 42-yard touchdown pass to receiver Drew Wolitarsky with 5:32 remaining. Brooks took a pitch and appeared to be running around right end. Wolitarsky faked as if he was blocking on the play before breaking free near the sideline.
Minnesota received the opening kick, but had to punt after getting just one first down.
The Hawkeyes took over at their own 9-yard line and then marched 91 yards for a touchdown on 17 plays. The drive chewed 8:38 off the clock and was capped by Daniels scoring on a 3-yard run.
Minnesota answered with its own scoring drive that covered 75 yards late in the first quarter. Quarterback Mitch Leidner scored on a 2-yard run with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
He also completed a 37-yard pass to receiver K.J. Maye, who was tackled at the Iowa 2. Leidner then scored on the next play.
Both teams scored touchdowns on their next offensive possessions in the second quarter.
Iowa marched 78 yards on six plays for a touchdown that came on a 1-yard boot leg run by Beathard with 14:24 left in the second quarter.
The Gophers answered right back, though, with a 75-yard touchdown drive that only took 2:18 off the clock. The touchdown came on a 40-yard pass from Leidner to tight end Brandon Lingen with 12:06 left in the second quarter. Lingen had slipped past his defender and was wide open when Leidner completed the pass.
Iowa grabbed the lead again at 17-14 when Koehn made a 47-yard field goal with 7:47 left before halftime.
The Hawkeyes put together another long scoring drive late in the second quarter that covered 97 yards in barely 3 minutes. Daniels capped the drive by bulling into the end zone from two yards with 44 seconds left in the second quarter.
Beathard completed four passes for 51 yards on the drive. He also scrambled for 26 yards before being pushed out of bounds at the Minnesota 14.
Iowa finished the first half with 290 yards, including 158 rushing yards. Daniels rushed for 90 yards and scored two touchdowns in the first half.
Senior running back Jordan Canzeri rushed for 31 yards on 10 carries after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury. Sophomore running back Akrum Wadley didn’t play in Saturday’s game because of an ankle injury. However, Ferentz said Wadley was held out of the game more as a precautionary measure.
Saturday’s victory was a drastic change from last season when the Gophers crushed Iowa 51-14 in Minneapolis. When the game ended, the Iowa players formed a swarm and walked across the field to get Floyd of Rosedale, the statue of a pig that goes to the winner in this rivalry. Senior center Austin Blythe was one of the first players to grab Floyd.
"Somebody came up and told me it was at the 20 (yard line) on the north side," Blythe said of the statue. "So as a senior, I wanted to go over and get it. Last chance, I said why not."