Nov. 13, 2021: After outgaining Iowa 409-277 in total yards, they failed to convert field goals in to TDs falling 27-22
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Full Game Recap:
- Pregame/injuries: There was no significant injuries of note, but the greatest coin tosser of all time, Mo Ibrahim won the toss and the Gophers opted to receive the opening kick.
- First-Quarter: After an game-opening three-and-out for the Gophers, Iowa took advantage and knocked him a 50-yard field goal, taking a 3-0 lead. The Minnesota offense responded in a big way, led by Bucky Irving and Ky Thomas combining for 77 yards through only two drives. A Matthew Trickett field goal from the one yard line evened the game at three.
- Second-Quarter: Iowa opened the second quarter with a scoring drive of its own, capped off by a Alex Padilla QB sneak. Then after alternating punts, the Gophers responded, with a beautiful 37 yard TD pass to Iowa native Ko Kieft evening the game at 10. After true freshman CB Justin Walley forced an Iowa fumble on the following drive, Minnesota took advantage with another Trickett field goal and took a 13-10 lead into the half.
- Third-Quarter: After exchaning punts to begin the second half, Iowa opened up the scoring with a 72 yard TD pass, regaining a 17-13 lead. The Gophers would answer, but only settled for another field goal in the red zone, narrowing the lead to 17-16.
- Fourth-Quarter: Minnesota had a massive decision to open the fourth quarter, and sophomore kicker Dragan Kesich came on for his first field goal attempt of the season and it would get blocked. Iowa used its momentum and Keagan Johnson would miraculously break out of a Coney Durr tackle en-route to a 27 yard TD, and Iowa would extend its lead to 24-16. Tanner Morgan and the Gophers would not go away. A beautiful 68 yard TD pass to Chris Autman-Bell, cut the Iowa lead to 24-22, but a failed two point conversion leaved it there. Minnesota has chances but it was unable to get any more points, falling 22-27.
Instant Reaction & Takeaways:
Ultimately, this game came down to making plays, and Iowa made more than the Gophers. Tanner Morgan continues to limit the ceiling of this offense, he’s consistently inconsistent and Minnesota was/is never able to get into a rhythym offensively. The offensive line and running game had a terrific response after last week’s debacle against Illinois, but Morgan’s inability to consistently make throws limits this team’s ability to stay balanced on offense and pick up long third downs. As a whole, the team’s 189 rushing yards were nearly 100 more than they had last week against Illinois. At the end of the day, it is very frustrating to see Minnesota outgain Iowa by 100+ yards and still come up short.
This defense continues to play at a high level, but they still have a tendency to let up big plays and tonight it caught up to them. Ultimatley, Justin Walley getting beat on a double move and Coney Durr failing to tackle, could’ve very well been the difference in this game. The defensive line and the front seven was dominant once again, but it doesn’t mean much when your offense cannot convert that into TDs. This team has shown flashes all season, but it is very frustrating for a season that was once very promising to end this way.
What is Next?:
Gophers faithful will continue to ask for Morgan to benched and Mike Sanford Jr. to be demoted/fired, but I am not sure that will happen. At this points, the Gophers are obvioulsy out of the running for a Big Ten West title, but they still have bowl eligibilty and an eight win season with a victory over Wisconsin is still on the table. It honestly tells you how far this program has come, if this season is considered a dissapointment. It obviously is, and it should be, but they can still accomplish a lot in 2021.
It will be huge for this team to develop their young players going into next season and that might have to start at the QB position. Morgan’s time could possibly be done this season, but they certainly need to find an answer for the future at the QB position. If its Kramer or Annexstad any playing time could be huge for both players heading into next season. At the end of the day however you look at this game it is terribly frustrating. This was supposed to be the year that P.J. Fleck had all his own recruits and they were going to make a run at the Big Ten Championship. Those hopes my be over, but this program is still trending in the right direction.