Minnesota 34, Iowa 24
MINNEAPOLIS (AP)—Amir Pinnix carried 23 times for 119 yards and two touchdowns, and Minnesota forced five turnovers in a 34-24 victory Saturday over fading Iowa to take back the Floyd of Rosedale trophy.
Pinnix gave the Gophers (6-6, 3-5 Big Ten) a 1,000-yard rusher for the eighth straight year. They won their third straight game and ended a five-game losing streak to the Hawkeyes (6-6, 2-6), who lost their final five conference games after being ranked as high as 15th in October.
Drew Tate completed 26 of 36 passes for 354 yards and two scores for Iowa, but he lost a fumble and threw three interceptions. The last one led to a brief benching in the third quarter.
Tate’s highlight was a nifty scramble to avoid a sack by Steve Davis in the fourth quarter, when he used his left hand to balance and keep from falling as he rolled right and fired a 3-yard touchdown pass to Scott Chandler with 8:08 left to cut Minnesota’s lead to 10.
Iowa forced a three-and-out and drove to the Gophers’ 25 with roughly 4 minutes remaining, but Albert Young—who had 133 yards on 25 attempts with one score—tripped on fourth-and-2 and was stopped well short of the first down to end any shot of a Hawkeyes comeback.
The Gophers sprinted across the field and coverged around the bronze pig that these teams have been playing for since 1935. This was the 100th overall meeting in the series, and Minnesota leads 59-39 with two ties.
Jay Thomas added 79 yards on 15 carries for the Gophers, who are in competition with the Hawkeyes for the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio. The school not invited to that game probably will be picked for the Insight Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.
Bryan Cupito went 18-for-30 for 267 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the final home game for him and 10 other seniors—including tight end Matt Spaeth, who caught a 3-yard score to put Minnesota up 27-17 late in the third quarter.
That was set up by Kevin Mannion’s interception of an off-target throw by Tate, who trails only Chuck Long for most of the school’s career passing records but has had not had the senior season Iowa envisioned.
His fumble, forced by Willie VanDeSteeg and recovered by Mario Reese, set up the Gophers’ first touchdown in the first quarter. After an interception by Miguel Merrick at the Hawkeyes’ 24 late in the second quarter, Tate drove his team to the Minnesota 3 in the final minute. But his first-and-goal pass to a slanting Dominique Douglas was picked off at the goal line by a leaping Mike Sherels to preserve a 20-17 Gophers lead.
Andy Brodell caught seven passes for 159 yards and a score for Iowa.