Coming into Saturday it will have been 8,029 days since Minnesota has won a game in Iowa City.
On that day, November 20, 1999 to be exact, quarterback Billy Cockerham threw for 175 yards and a touchdown as well as rushed for 122 on the ground in rallying the Golden Gophers to a 25-21 victory at Kinnick Stadium. Minnesota finished the season 8-4 with a loss to Oregon in the Sun Bowl while the loss dropped Iowa to 1-10 and was the final indignity in Kirk Ferentz's rough first season as head coach.
Since that loss however, Ferentz has won 16 of his last 21 meetings for Floyd of Rosedale—punctuated by a perfect 9-0 record at home against a carousel of Gopher head coaches:
- Mason: 0-3
- Tim Brewster (LOL): 0-2
- Jerry Kill: 0-1
- Tracy Claeys: 0-1
- P.J. Fleck: 0-2
Across the nine-game home winning streak Iowa has beaten Minnesota by an average score of 30.8 - 18.5 thanks in large part to five of the first six meetings where in all but one the Hawkeyes beat the Gophers by at least 12 points. Only 2007's 21-16 Iowa victory was within one score.
The last three meetings in the series at Kinnick Stadium have been pretty nip and tuck however, with each contest settled by seven points or less.
The largest of Iowa's last three home wins over Minnesota came in 2017 when Nate Stanley threw for 190 yards and launched a 45-yard touchdown pass to Noah Fant in a 17-10 win.
Two years later, in the Gophers' last trip to Iowa City, Fleck's crew entered the game undefeated at 9-0 and ranked #8 in the country, but the Hawkeyes jumped ahead early thanks to Stanley's two first half touchdowns along with a Tyler Goodson 10-yard score, and then hung on for dear life in a 23-19 win
After last season's 35-7 blowout win in Minneapolis saw Ferentz channel his inner Francis Ford Coppola, Iowa carries a six-game winning streak overall in the series. The Hawkeyes started the run thanks to three touchdowns by Leshun Daniels and another on the ground from C.J. Beathard in a then-monumental 40-35 win in 2015.
The win pushed that Iowa team to 10-0 on the season which, six years later, remains the only 10-0 start in program history. We all know how the rest of 2015 unfolded: the Hawkeyes eventually finished the regular season 12-0 before some other stuff happened that I don't really want to talk about.
The 2021 Iowa team has zero chance of being 10-0 on the season following Saturday's battle with its rival to the North. It can however make it 10 for 10 in home games against the Gophers since the turn of the century and that is still a really nice thing.
Here's to one more serving of bacon and another 730 days or so of misery for Minnesota in Iowa City.
I'll take "Why the hell wasn't he starting?" for 100, Alex
Undoubtedly, the only real thing of note to come out of Iowa's laborious 17-13 win at Northwestern last week was quarterback Alex Padilla not only entering the game late in the first quarter for the injured Spencer Petras, but playing pretty damn well out of the gate too. Padilla showed an ability to actually complete a slant pattern (!) on a semi-consistent basis as well unleash several "wow, what a throw" passes not seen around these parts since early in the Nate Stanley era.
I spent today studying CFB QB's. Mostly for the 22 draft class:— Tim Jenkins (@TJenkinsElite) November 8, 2021
- Malik Willis V Ole Miss
- Matt Coral V Liberty
- Sam Howell V Wake Forest
but the throw of the day came from Iowa QB Alex Padilla.
Call me bias but this is 10/10. pic.twitter.com/VnyHeXCZg3
The sophomore wasn't perfect by any means, but there is no question that his mobility and all-around play last weekend was more effective than what we've seen under center through the first seven weeks of the season. A healthy Petras or not, Padilla clearly gives the Hawkeyes the best chance to win on Saturday.
So what the hell took so long?
One would think that after Petras went 17/32 with four interceptions in Iowa's demoralizing 25-7 home loss to Purdue four weeks ago a perfectly-timed bye week would give the Ferentzs and Ken O'Keefe and whoever else has input on who to start at quarterback the chance to re-evaluate the play at the most important position in all of sports.
Yet it was Petras who was still the unquestioned starter heading into the Wisconsin game where the junior put up only 93 yards on 9/19 throwing in a 27-7 Iowa loss that I'll eternally regret driving 10+ hours round trip to attend.
So unless Padilla did things in Evanston that he just hasn't come close to doing in practice, I think Ferentz owes us a bit of an explanation into why he wasn't playing at all up to this point.
This also folds neatly into the catch-22 hovering over this weekend's battle with Minnesota. Iowa is currently a 4.5 point favorite at home over a Gophers team limping into Iowa City following a 14-6 loss to Illinois that actually wasn't even that close.
Also, as stated above, Minnesota hasn't won at Kinnick in 22 years.
So there are very few excuses for the Hawkeyes to lose this game, but if they do it's on Ferentz and his coaching staff.
On the flip side, if Padilla ignites the Iowa offense through the air, which should subsequently open up some room for Tyler Goodson to... be good... then we'll be left begging Ferentz and his cohorts to explain to us why Padilla not only wasn't playing at all, but also why he wouldn't even sniff the field if Petras were healthy enough to go.
In reality though, if Padilla plays well once again and Iowa wins we'll likely never get a real explanation from the the Hawkeye coaching staff. Instead, the fans and media will likely buy back into this season and the Iowa hype train will hop back on its tracks.
There likely won't be a layover in Indianapolis though. No, the next stop will be rather hollow 10-win season, a trip to Tampa, and a legion of Hawkeye fans wondering why it took eight weeks, a bad offense, and two crushing losses for the Iowa coaching staff to make an obvious change at quarterback.
But who knows, maybe this will finally be the year the Hawkeyes
win a Big Ten title for the first time in almost two decades are team bloomin' onion.
That's what this is all about, right?
GO IOWA AWESOME