Nov. 17, 2009
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Broderick Binns will clear two hurdles on one leap with an Iowa football victory Saturday against Minnesota at Kinnick Stadium.
Binns, a sophomore defensive end, is a native of St. Paul, Minn. — the heart of Gopher country. This is also the third season he has practiced with, and played alongside, 17 seniors who will be recognized before their final home game.
“This game means a lot,” Binns said. “I know a lot of guys on their team. Minnesota is going to be a tough opponent, it’s for the (Floyd of Rosedale) trophy, so it means a lot to us. Our seniors have also been here for five years and we want to send them out with a bang.”
Iowa (9-2 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) hosts Minnesota (6-5, 3-4) with an 11 a.m. start. The game will be televised by ESPN.
A victory would be give the Hawkeyes 10 during the regular season and that feat has been accomplished just three times in school history (1985, 1991, 2002). It would also be the second year in a row that Iowa has sent its seniors off with a win. The Hawkeyes defeated Purdue last season, 22-17.
For Binns, a victory would mean bragging rights back home, as well as a nice way to say farewell to his elder teammates.
“It’s exciting because it’s senior day and we still have a lot to play for,” UI senior tight end Tony Moeaki said. “A bunch of us (seniors) have been through a lot.”
“That’s the neat thing about football,” UI head coach Kirk Ferentz said at his weekly media conference in the Hayden Fry Football Complex. “We get 17 good stories out of the senior class and they’re all different in their own ways. They’ve done a great job — how they carry themselves around this building, in their workouts, what they’re doing academically, in social settings, how they travel…I can’t say enough about the senior class.”
A Michigan win at home against Ohio State opens the door for as many as three teams — including Iowa — to share the Big Ten championship. Of course, the Hawkeyes first need to take care of business against Minnesota. Penn State (at Michigan State) and Wisconsin (at Northwestern) must win on the road to finish 6-2 in the league.
“That’s the neat thing about football. We get 17 good stories out of the senior class and they’re all different in their own ways. They’ve done a great job — how they carry themselves around this building, in their workouts, what they’re doing academically, in social settings, how they travel…I can’t say enough about the senior class.”
UI head coach Kirk Ferentz
“We know it’s out there, but we know it’s not in our hands,” Ferentz said of a possible split of the league title. “I encourage the guys not to think about that or worry about that. That’s wasted energy right now. It’s a lot more productive for us right now just to worry about this game because it’s going to be a tough conference game and that’s what’s important.”
This is the 103rd meeting between Iowa and Minnesota with the Gophers holding a 59-41-2 advantage in the all-time series. Iowa has won the last two and seven of the last eight, including 55-0 last season in Minneapolis.
“It was one of those games, totally an aberration,” Ferentz said. “I’m still not sure how it happened. We were playing well and things just started rolling, I sure didn’t see that coming. I don’t think it’s reflective of probably either team, quite frankly.”
For the Hawkeyes to improve on their 345.3-yard per game offensive average, they will have to do it against a Gopher defense that starts nine seniors and two juniors.
“Defensively, the thing that jumps out at you is their experience level,” Ferentz said. “They’ve been around the block. They know what to do, they’re talented and they do a nice job. That’s going to be a challenge for us offensively.”
On offense, the Gophers are led by quarterback Adam Weber, who has passed for 197.1 yards per game and 12 touchdowns. The lone senior starter on that side of the ball is tight end Nick Tow-Arnett, the leading active receiver on the team with 34 receptions for 434 yards and two touchdowns.
“We’ll see how the week goes,” Ferentz said of Hunter. “He will not practice (Tuesday). He’ll work out a little bit and see how it progresses as we go along.”
Ferentz is hopeful that running back Brandon Wegher (502 rushing yards, six touchdowns), who unexpectedly missed the game at Ohio State, will be back against Minnesota.
Postseason Bowl Championship Series talk is still of no interest to the head coach of the Hawkeyes.
“With a win on Saturday, we’ll be 10-2,” Ferentz said. “With a loss, we’ll be 9-3 and we’ll go from there. It really doesn’t matter right now. I’m not even thinking about it and I hope nobody else is in our camp because it doesn’t matter. That’s somebody else’s job.”