Gophers find a way to beat Iowa, 12-10, to grab Floyd of Rosedale trophy

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IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was far from pretty and completely chaotic, but the Gophers finally ended their long and painful losing streak to the Iowa Hawkeyes on Saturday at Kinnick Stadium.

The Gophers were desperately holding onto a three-point win when they punted to Cooper DeJean with less than 90 seconds remaining.

Minnesota defensive back Justin Walley (5) celebrates his interception with defensive back Tre’Von Jones (2) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Iowa, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2023, in Iowa City, Iowa. Minnesota won 12-10. (AP Photo/Matthew Putney)

DeJean returned it 54 yards for a touchdown, but officials called it back for an invalid fair catch signal. Fans booed and threw debris on the field.

Iowa got the ball back, but Justin Walley’s interception sealed a 12-10 win for Minnesota and Gophers players raced to the north end zone to find the Floyd of Rosedale rivalry trophy.

Minnesota (4-3, 2-2 Big Ten) hadn’t won in Iowa City since 1999. No. 24 Iowa (6-2, 3-2) has been the favorite to win the Big Ten West.

The Hawkeyes’ eight-game winning streak had been the longest in the rivalry since Minnesota was on a roll before World War II.

The Gophers got four field goals from Dragan Kesich; his 31-yarder gave Minnesota a 12-10 lead with eight minutes remaining. It was the first time the U lead Saturday and only the second time Fleck has led across his seven games against Iowa.

Minnesota didn’t have an offensive touchdown and Iowa had 12 yards of offense in the second half.

Last season’s Floyd of Rosedale game set a 28-year record for lowest over/under point total (32 1/2 points), and this year’s game broke that record (31).

With a premium placed on points, Iowa’s lone touchdown in the first half loomed extra large. The often-discipled Gophers had four defensive penalties on the same drive to gift Iowa the score.

The first flag was the most-damaging one, with Deacon Hill stopped for no gain, Danny Striggow’s facemasking call gave Iowa a first down. With three more flags against the U across seven plays, the Hawkeyes would finally score on a Hill sneak from less than a yard out.

The Gophers produced a takeaway early in the second quarter on a blitz, with Devon Williams forcing a fumble and Tyler Nubin recovering it at Iowa’s 32-yard line.

But Minnesota did nothing with it and Kesich’s 43-yard field goal attempt into the wind didn’t stand a chance, going wide right.

The Gophers produced another takeaway on a blitz in the third quarter, with Nubin forcing a fumble and Williams recovering it at Iowa’s 11.

IOWA CITY, IOWA- OCTOBER 21: Wide receiver Nico Ragaini #89 of the Iowa Hawkeyes is tackled during the first half by defensive back Justin Walley #5 of the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Kinnick Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Iowa City, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

This time, Minnesota got a Kesich 28-yard field goal, but with that great field position and Iowa’s tough defense, it still felt like an opportunity lost.

For a seventh straight time under Fleck, the Gophers fell behind Iowa to begin this rivalry game.

On their opening drive, the Hawkeyes got two third-down conversions, including a stunning 36-yard catch by Diante Vines. The Hawkeyes were converting only 26 percent of third downs (128th in the nation).

The Gophers then got a stop on the third conversion attempt, forcing a 23-yard field goal to trail 3-0 with five minutes were played.

Minnesota put together a nine-play, 45-yard drive toward the south end zone, and with the wind  Kesich easily made a 43-yard field goal to tie it, 3-3.

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