In a battle of strengths, the Iowa Hawkeyes defense out-muscled the Minnesota Gophers and held them to just 30 yards on the ground in the Hawkeyes 23-7 win over Minnesota in the Big 10 opener.
"It's pretty simple, they controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball," said head coach Jerry Kill. "Football is a game of execution and they out executed us today."
Philip Nelson was back on the field as the starting quarterback for the Gophers after missing last weeks game because of a hamstring injury. Mitch Leidner stepped in and ran for four touchdowns in the win against San Jose State. The Hawkeyes shut down the quarterback portion of the read option and Nelson managed just seven yards on nine carries.
"We couldn't move Iowa," said Kill. "They'd slide off a block and make a play. They handled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball better than we did. When you can run the ball and you can have some success, but we didn't run the ball well today."
The Hawkeyes were able to convert on 8 of 14 third downs and wore the defense of the Gophers out. Running back Mark Weisman torched the Gophers again as he ran 24 times for 150 yards.
"We talked about how critical third down is," said Kill. "They executed in third down and we didn't. That's part of football. You've got to get off the field on third down."
Iowa, leading 3-0 took the ball 80 yards on eight plays and quarterback Jake Rudock scored on a four yard touchdown run to put the Hawkeyes up 10-0. They added a 74 yard screen pass to Damond Powell to make it 17-0, a lead they took to halftime.
Nelson finally put the Gophers on the scoreboard late in the third quarter when he found Derick Engel on a 23 yard pass. It would be the only points the offense would muster all game. The sophomore finished the game 12-for-24 with 135 yards and a pair of interceptions. The Gophers were led in rushing by Rodrick Williams' 22 yards.
The Gophers fall to 4-1 with the loss and travel to Michigan next weekend to face the Wolverines. The Hawkeyes up their record to 4-1 and 1-0 in the Big 10.