If the Gophers looked inspired the past two weeks against Michigan and Ohio State, Briean Boddy-Calhoun acknowledged they were driven to help then-interim coach Tracy Claeys keep the job.
So, is the senior captain concerned the team will take its foot off the pedal now that Claeys has the gig?
"Nah, we play the Hawkeyes this week," Boddy-Calhoun said, wrinkling his face at the preposterous idea. "No letting go of the gas anytime soon."
The Gophers face undefeated Iowa on Saturday night at Kinnick Stadium, in the 80th battle for the Floyd of Rosedale trophy, and the story lines are as bountiful as this year's harvest.
A victory would give Iowa its first 10-0 start in school history, as the Hawkeyes have climbed to No. 8 in the AP poll, and No. 5 in the College Football Playoff rankings.
"They're kind of having the perfect season, the ideal season," Boddy-Calhoun said. "Being able to shake that board up a little bit, I think that's definitely added some motivation."
The Gophers (4-5, 1-4 Big Ten) are riding a three-game losing streak and fighting to become bowl-eligible, looking to reward Claeys with his first victory since Jerry Kill retired Oct. 28. But they have possession of the bronze pig after crushing Iowa 51-14 last November in Minneapolis.
"They have a lot of confidence, being undefeated," quarterback Mitch Leidner said. "And we have a lot of confidence after what we were able to do to them last year. So it's going to be a good battle."
Claeys often reminds players that the past — even one week removed — has no bearing on that day's game. Sure, the Gophers reeled off 51 consecutive points on the Hawkeyes last year. But Maxx Williams and David Cobb combined for four of those touchdowns, and now both are in the NFL.
"It snowballed," Claeys said. "You have games like that. We weren't that many points better than Iowa last year.
"They're playing better this year, there's no question. They've kind of gelled. Things are going their way. It will be a tremendous challenge. At the same time, being a trophy game, our kids will be excited. I expect us to play well."
The Gophers went 2-2 against Iowa under Kill, using an onside kick to upset the Hawkeyes 22-21 in 2011 before losing the next two matchups and then reclaiming Floyd last year.
"A game I remember is [three] years ago, going there and getting it handed to us," Claeys said, referencing the Gophers' 31-13 loss on their most recent trip to Iowa City, in 2012.
Like Claeys, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said Floyd of Rosedale's full meaning didn't quite hit him until the first time he watched the other guys hoist the trophy.
In 1981, Ferentz was in his first year as an Iowa assistant under Hayden Fry. The Hawkeyes ranked sixth in the country and would eventually reach the Rose Bowl. But a Gophers squad headed for a 6-5 finish swung into Iowa and got four field goals from Jim Gallery to stun the Hawkeyes 12-10.
"It's at that moment you realize what it's all about, whether it's a pig or rooster," Ferentz said.
The Hawkeyes have been gearing up for Saturday ever since April, when the Big Ten Network picked this game to be a rare mid-November night game for either of these teams.
This will be the first sellout of the season at 70,585-seat Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes invited fans to wear black clothing for the school's annual "Blackout," and the team will unveil alternate all-black uniforms.
Even in bright sunshine, Kinnick is a notoriously tough road venue, with Hawkeyes fans perched right behind the visiting bench. The space is so tight, the Gophers had no room for the heated seats they brought to Ohio State last week.
Iowa's defense is just as stifling. The Hawkeyes rank eighth in the nation in scoring defense (16.6 points per game), ninth in rushing defense (101.4 yards) and 12th in total defense (300.9).
The Gophers, meanwhile, rushed for just 33 yards in last week's loss at Ohio State. Is Claeys confident his squad can improve the running game, even with three offensive line starters out with injuries?
"I'm always a pretty confident guy," Claeys said. "We'll get after it. I think we can run it better, and we will."
The Gophers haven't won at Iowa since 1999. But they toted the 98.3-pound bronze trophy with them on this road trip, and they're determined to escort it safely back across the border Saturday night.
"The best part about this game is it doesn't matter if you're 9-0 or if you're 4-5, this game's still going to matter a lot to us," punter Peter Mortell said. "We're going to go out there, and they're going to get our best shot."