THE MEMORY STADIUM: IOWA VS. MINNESOTA, 2015

By Adam Jacobi on October 27, 2017 at 10:00 am
LeShun Daniels, feasting on souls.
Big Ten Network
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As with all 2017 opponents, this isn't the first Iowa's played Minnesota, and it wouldn't be the first time we've beaten them. Here's a look back as we turn yesterday's victories into today's lessons.

Ah, the Iowa-Minnesota rivalry. As fun as 55-0 was, there's not much to learn other than BEAT THEM TO HELL AND BACK, and 1986's main lesson of "let the Gophers put 12 men on the field on the last play of the game" is not the most actionable advice we've ever heard.

And yet there's plenty from 2015 to take to heart. The circumstances were different, with Iowa five games up on Minnesota while both teams are at 4-3 (1-3) today, but as with all rivalry games................. <extremely cliche sportscaster voice> YOU THROW THE RECORDS OUT THE WINDOW WHEN THESE TWO TEAMS LOCK HORNS, FOLKS! </voice>

Some keys to the victory:

Every drive is an opportunity to change the game. Iowa scored 17 points on its first three drives of the game, yet still found itself in a precarious position late in the first half: only up three points, pinned at the 3-yard line and trying to figure out how to get 3:43 off the clock without the Gophers having a shot at tying or taking the lead. After a pair of LeShun Daniels set up a 3rd and 4, C.J. Beathard unleashed hell, gaining 77 yards on the next five plays (4-4 passing and a 26-yard scramble) and setting up a downright leisurely assault on the end zone. The Hawkeyes didn't face another third down on the drive as they took a 10-point lead on a LeShun Daniels plunge; the lead was never back down to 3 for the rest of the game. 

A talented quarterback who plays within himself is a dangerous thing. Beathard had games with better numbers than his output against Minnesota here — 18-for-26, 213 yards; 10 rushes, 50 yards, 2 rushing TDs — but this game might be his virtuoso best as a Hawkeye. Beathard navigates the pocket, finds open receivers and puts the ball dead on target, and he avoids mistakes even in high-pressure situations, the way Kirk Ferentz demands his best quarterbacks do. Sure, you can see Iowa's 506 yards from scrimmage (which is like 800 for a non-B1G coach) and figure Iowa cruised on offense, but the Hawkeyes still faced 15 third downs. They just converted 10 of them, and that doesn't happen without a quarterback working to his strengths, over and over and over. Daniels had the big stats (195 yards rushing, 3 touchdowns, one ultra-sexy juke en route to the clinching TD), but Beathard was equally awesome that night. 

Bronze looks better under the lights. There's never been a half-ass rush to the sidelines to pick up Floyd. There were extra cameras around in 2015, with Iowa moving to 10-0 on the season, but the pig's the thing for both teams and it brought out one of the best battles these teams have waged in decades. There's no sense in saying Iowa wanted it more — we don't even know that — but Iowa certainly wanted it enough that, combined with their talent, they withstood the Gophers' 35-point onslaught. And man, it's cool having the bacon around for another 12 months. It never gets old. Never ever.


NOTE: the title of this feature, uh, "borrows heavily" from The Memory Palace, a truly world-expanding podcast by Nate DiMeo. He just added an episode about the complicated worldwide legacy of Herbert Hoover, for example. Add it to your podcasts and to your life, if you haven't already; you'll be better for it. We imitate because we admire, and because it's not plagiarism if you link to it.

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