Iowa football beats Minnesota, takes control of its own destiny in Big Ten West race

With a win next week, the Hawkeyes can clinch their second consecutive trip to the Big Ten Championship Game.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa tight end Sam LaPorta runs after a reception during a football game between Iowa and Minnesota at Huntington Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (Jerod Ringwald/The Daily Iowan)

Austin Hanson, Pregame Editor

MINNEAPOLIS — The Iowa football team’s offense came out of the gate hot Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium. The Hawkeyes scored 10 points on their first two drives against a Golden Gopher defense that ranked eighth nationally before kickoff.

Iowa’s first offensive play of the game was a 58-yard completion to tight end Sam LaPorta. Three snaps later, true freshman kicker Drew Stevens converted on a 38-yard field goal.

The Hawkeyes scored a touchdown on their ensuing possession. Iowa drove the ball 65 yards to the 1-yard line. Senior quarterback Spencer Petras then scored via a sneak play.

Iowa’s offense sputtered after its quick start. The Hawkeyes didn’t score for nearly 53 minutes of game play after Petras’ touchdown.

“You know, we kinda just shot ourselves in the foot [on] a few drives,” Petras said postgame. “We had a bad snap. We had a makeable third down, and I threw the ball a little inside. The safety was able to make a break up on it … Just stuff that’s close but we just weren’t able to get it done. But we got it done when it mattered most in the fourth quarter. That’s what we gotta do. We gotta keep chopping and doing whatever you can to win the game.”

Iowa’s third and final score of the game was a 21-yard field goal from Stevens with 28 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. Stevens’ game-winner, and subsequently the Hawkeyes’ 13-10 win, was set up by an interception from linebacker Jack Campbell.

The senior picked off a pass from Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis at the Iowa 25-yard line. Campbell then returned the ball to the Gopher 45. 

“Honestly, in my mind, I was just trying to get to the ball,” Campbell said of his interception. “I was just trying to be an extra hat on the ball, trying to get that ball out. It popped up, and I just took advantage of my opportunity.”

The Hawkeyes’ offense drove 42 yards to the Minnesota 3 to help Stevens clinch the game. The late-game field goal spoiled Gopher running back Mohamed Ibrahim’s 39-carry, 263-yard, one-touchdown game.

LaPorta, Pottebaum leave with injuries

LaPorta and fullback Monte Pottebaum both exited Saturday’s game in the first quarter with injuries. Neither suited up before the game ended.

“No, I mean [LaPorta] had to come out, obviously,” Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We’ll probably know more here tomorrow, the next couple days. It was enough to keep him out and he couldn’t go back in. Same thing with Monte.

“That made it tougher. Those are two of our top guys, offensively. They’re great leaders and really good football players.”

LaPorta was on the Hawkeyes’ sideline in street clothes during the second half. Sophomore Luke Lachey and true freshman Addison Ostrenga filled in for LaPorta for most of the game. Ostrenga and Lachey both failed to eclipse the yardage total LaPorta amassed during the Hawkeyes’ first few drives of the game.

LaPorta caught four passes for 95 yards before he left the game. His 58-yard reception was a career-high.

Redshirt freshman Eli Miller filled in for Pottebaum on offense. He didn’t record any stats on the game.

Senior Turner Pallissard is the backup fullback listed on the Hawkeyes’ depth chart. He spent most of the contest playing special teams.

Big picture

The Hawkeyes now control their own destiny in the Big Ten West. Iowa and Purdue are tied for first place in the division with 5-3 conference records.

Iowa holds tiebreakers over all of their divisional foes except Illinois and Nebraska. The Hawkeyes lost to the Fighting Illini, 9-6, at Memorial Stadium in Champaign on Oct. 8.

Illinois fell to Michigan, 19-17, in Ann Arbor, dropping to 4-4 in conference play. With the Illini’s tiebreaker not in play, the Hawkeyes would advance to the Big Ten Championship Game in Indianapolis with a win in Week 13.

“It would mean a lot,” strong safety Kaevon Merriweather said of Iowa’s chances to win back-to-back division titles. “You don’t get that opportunity all the time. This would be my second time being able to hold that trophy and be able to go out to Indy. It’s an incredible opportunity. It’s an incredible chance we have in front of us.”

Up next

Iowa will welcome Nebraska to Kinnick Stadium on Friday at 3 p.m. The Hawkeyes and Cornhuskers are set to battle for the Heroes Trophy.

Iowa has won seven consecutive games against Nebraska. The Cornhuskers will enter the contest fresh off a 15-14 loss to Wisconsin.

Nebraska is not bowl eligible this season with an overall record of 3-8.