MINNEAPOLIS — After failing to reach a bowl game last season for the first time since 2007, Iowa is determined to re-establish itself as a formidable Big Ten football team.
This dismantling of rival Minnesota was a solid first step.
“Any time you step out on the field, at least in an Iowa uniform, you want to control the physical aspect of the game. And I think we did that for the most part,” linebacker James Morris said.
Jake Rudock threw for one touchdown and ran for another, and the Hawkeyes dominated the Gophers on both sides of the ball in a 23-7 victory on Saturday.
“It’s always fun. It’s what you love to do: celebrate with your teammates, celebrate with the great fans we have that came and watched us,” Mark Weisman, who rushed for 147 yards on 24 carries, said after the Hawkeyes hoisted the Floyd of Rosedale Trophy to pull within 61-44-2 in the all-time series.
Iowa has won 10 of the past 13 meetings. Mike Meyer made three of his four field-goal attempts, Rudock went 15-of-25 for 218 yards passing and the Hawkeyes (4-1, 1-0) moved the chains on eight of 14 third downs. After losing their opener to Northern Illinois, they’ve outscored their past two opponents 82-10.
“I think we’re improving every game, but the important thing is to not get satisfied,” Rudock said.
Morris and fellow senior linebackers Christian Kirksey and Anthony Hitchens led a stifling effort on defense, including interceptions by Kirksey and Morris of Minnesota quarterback Philip Nelson. Nelson hadn’t played in two weeks because of an injury, but he started ahead of Mitch Leidner for the Gophers (4-1, 0-1).
Morris had eight tackles and one of Iowa’s four sacks. Hitchens had 10 tackles, and Kirksey had five.
“Those guys are great. They get us going,” defensive tackle Carl Davis said.