12:00 PM ET, November 19, 2005
Kinnick Stadium, Iowa City, IA
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- This was the Iowa team everyone expected to see, one that was explosive on offense, dominant on defense and in control from start to finish.
Iowa rolled past Minnesota 52-28 on Saturday, ending a regular season that started with huge expectations but didn't quite live up to the hype -- until the final two games.
After winning at then-No. 19 Wisconsin a week ago to break a two-game losing streak, the Hawkeyes were even better against Minnesota. Ed Hinkel caught four touchdown passes to set a Kinnick Stadium record, Damian Sims scored on a 71-yard run and Iowa shut down the nation's best rushing offense.
"We expected to start the season off with this type of play," Iowa running back Albert Young said. "It didn't go that way. That's football. A lot of things don't always fall the way you planned.
"But as long as you finish strong, and that's what we did, that's all that matters."
Iowa (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) improved its bowl prospects with its fifth straight victory over Minnesota, which lost star running back Laurence Maroney in the first quarter and fell behind 35-0 less than 25 minutes into the game.
The Hawkeyes set the tone by dropping Minnesota (7-4, 4-4) for losses on three of its first six running plays. The Gophers, who came in averaging a nation-leading 295 yards a game rushing, were held to 63 yards in the first half and 129 for the game.
"Those first two possessions really changed the tone because we knew they were going to come out running," Iowa cornerback Jovon Johnson said. "I know it kind of had them thinking, 'If we can't run the ball what are we going to do?' It kind of changed the momentum of the game."
On offense, Iowa did pretty much what it wanted in compiling a season-high 613 yards. Drew Tate completed his first seven passes and the line gave Sims and Young plenty of running room. The Hawkeyes were so efficient that wide receiver Clinton Solomon even threw a touchdown pass.
"So much of football is mental," Minnesota coach Glen Mason said. "You always look at why? I don't know why. Did you perform well? No. Why? I don't know."
Hinkel caught touchdown passes of 46, 38 and 3 yards from Tate and 26 yards from Solomon, who was a quarterback in high school. Tate also threw a 6-yard TD pass to Scott Chandler and finished 19-of-32 for 351 yards and one interception.
Hinkel, who missed three games after breaking his arm at Purdue on Oct. 8, had seven catches in all for 151 yards. Four players held the old stadium record of three TD catches in a game. The last to do it was Jim Mauro against Iowa State in 1986.
"I think everybody wants to make the last game one they're going to remember," said Hinkel, one of 24 seniors playing in Kinnick for the final time. "It's been something that's been floating around all week. You're always going to remember your last one, so we wanted to go out and be successful as a class."
Maroney, who was averaging 149.4 yards a game, aggravated an injury to his right ankle that kept him out of the Gophers' victory over Michigan State a week ago. He limped off the field after a 1-yard gain late in the first quarter and did not return, finishing with 10 yards in seven carries.
"He had it in his mind he could go. But when it came time to go, he couldn't," Mason said. "So the next question is, 'Does that hurt you?' Sure it does, because he's a great football player."
Iowa led 45-7 after three quarters and Minnesota did not score an offensive touchdown until Gary Russell's 16-yard run with 11:29 left. The Gophers' only first-half score came on John Shevlin's 60-yard interception return.
One consolation for the Gophers was that Russell reached 1,000 yards, making Minnesota the first team in NCAA history to have two 1,000-yard rushers in three consecutive seasons.
Russell carried 17 times for 78 yards to run his total to 1,045, while Maroney has 1,355. Maroney and Marion Barber III both reached 1,000 yards in 2003 and 2004.
But Iowa was the better running team Saturday. Sims went for 104 yards in eight carries, while Young carried 21 times for 103 yards.
"They were supposed to have the three-headed monster," Young said. "Today, we had the two-headed monster with the offensive line."
Sims sprinted straight up the middle for his touchdown on the third play of the second quarter to make it 21-0. On the Hawkeyes' next possession, Solomon took a handoff as if he were running an end around, stopped and hit Hinkel in stride on their 26-yard touchdown play.
Two plays later, Chad Greenway's interception gave Iowa the ball at the Minnesota 5. On the next snap, Young shot through a huge hole untouched into the end zone for a 35-0 lead with 5:57 left in the half.
Forced to throw more than usual, Minnesota's Bryan Cupito was 26-for-46 for 315 yards and one touchdown, a 3-yarder to Logan Payne against Iowa's reserves.
All the Gophers can do now is await their bowl bid. Ditto for Iowa.
"I know we helped our chances today," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "We're going to be thrilled to go where we go."