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Notebook: Iowa-Minnesota match-up plays like old school football

BY MATT CABEL | SEPTEMBER 25, 2013 5:00 AM

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Football dates back to the late-1800s — a new game that was a variation of rugby and soccer.

One thing that’s stayed consistent in the 100-plus years since its inception?

Running the pigskin through the trenches that make up the line of scrimmage. And that’s exactly what Iowa and Minnesota plan to do Saturday, when the Hawkeyes travel to Minneapolis to face the Gophers. A bit of old-fashioned football.

“It’s Big Ten football from the past,” running back Mark Weisman said. “Definitely running games [are important], but both teams are going to need to pass to win this game.”

For Weisman, the thought of such a matchup in the trenches makes him smile. He believes that the game will be won on the line of scrimmage and that his running will have to open up the passing game.

Both teams have had success running the football in the first four games of the season. Minnesota has rushed for 16 touchdowns from four players and accumulated 1,129 rushing yards. The Hawkeyes have rushed for 976 yards and 8 touchdowns.

“They’re not really the spread-option type team,” safety Tanner Miller said. “They like to pound it between the tackles. We’ve shown that we can have success stopping the run, and we’ll have to continue to do that this week.”

A different kind of mobile quarterback

Minnesota quarterback Mitch Leidner is a dual-threat quarterback. The Hawkeye defense is familiar with the type, but Leidner is different from others in the Big Ten: He looks to run before he looks to pass. It’s apparent too — the Minnesota offense has only scored one touchdown through the air.

“We’ve seen plenty of those type of quarterbacks who look to make plays with their feet,” Miller said. “That’s not something that we’re foreign to. It’s just something we have to prepare for this week.”

But just because Leidner looks to run first doesn’t mean he can’t pass. He was 7-for-8 passing for 105 yards in his first quarterback start against Western Illinois.

“He’s a big strong guy,” linebacker James Morris said. “He’s got a big arm, and he can run. It’s sort of been that story all year, right? We’ve played a lot of good dual-threat quarterbacks that have hurt us at times and that we’ve played well at times. It’s just going to be more of the same this week.”

September skies await the Hawkeyes in Minneapolis

When the Hawkeyes arrive at TCF Bank Stadium on Sunday, a few things will be different from the last time they visited the Gophers: The temperature won’t be anywhere close to zero. Saturday’s matchup will only be the second time in the history of the 77 games in the Floyd of Rosedale history that the Hawkeyes won’t play the Gophers in October or November. While the forecast currently calls for rain and a high of 66 degrees, it’s favorable weather compared with the 2011 matchup, which Morris described as an “awful environment.”

“[It was] negative degrees; the field was frozen over,” Morris said. “Guys were slipping because the rubber pellets that make up the field were frozen together — your cleats wouldn’t pinch, and it was like walking on a hardwood floor.” Both matchups on the Gopher’s home field featured sloppy play from both teams, a fact that head coach Kirk Ferentz acknowledged and isn’t anticipating to see from either teams this weekend.

“If we play like we did the last two times, we’re not going to win the game,” Ferentz said. “…My guess is they’re going to be ready to go and they’ve playing well, and my guess is they’ll be ready to go doing the same thing this week.”


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