Well, the Gophers answered how they’d respond to a bad loss and a difficult start to their November stretch run.
No one could have expected this outcome though.
The Gophers put together a thoroughly dominating performance to throttle rival Iowa 51-14 at TCF Bank Stadium.
I admittedly have a bad memory, but I can’t remember a game like this from a Gophers team, as either a beat writer or columnist. Not in an important game against a big rival. Their performance also makes their loss at Illinois two weeks ago even more perplexing.
The Gophers played darn near a perfect first half to take a 35-7 lead to the locker room. Jerry Kill’s team took control after a shaky opening series by the defense.
Lot of credit to pass around after this performance.
The defense bottled up the run and forced three turnovers in the first half.
Tight end Maxx Williams was brilliant with three touchdown catches and one highlight reel grab along the sideline on a ridiculous individual effort to drag his toes.
Mitch Leidner looked sharp throwing the ball and ran the ball well in a bounce-back performance.
Kill got his team focused and ready to play after the tough loss to Illinois and his coordinators – Tracy Claeys and Matt Limegrover – had smart, aggressive game plans.
With the score still close, Claeys called back-to-back corner blitzes for Eric Murray in the first half and it worked effectively. Murray caused an errant pass on a quarterback hit the first time and then forced a quick throw short of the first down sticks on the second one.
Limegrover also had a good day. He called a number of Jet Sweeps for KJ Maye, who hurt Iowa on the edge and rushed for 53 yards on six carries before halftime.
Limegrover also showed confidence in Leidner after Murray got a hand on an Iowa punt, causing it to travel only 14 yards. On the first play, Limegrover called a play-action pass and Leidner connected with Donovahn Jones for a 44-yard touchdown.