Defense the Difference

Nov. 21, 2009

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Perhaps it was fitting that it was the defense of the University of Iowa’s nationally ranked football team took the bull by the horns – or maybe the pig by the tail – in this year’s battle for Floyd of Rosedale with the Golden Gophers of Minnesota.

On a day when Iowa’s offense was not hitting on all cylinders under the direction of its red-shirt freshman quarterback James Vandenberg and was further hampered when Adam Robinson reinjured his ankle late in the second quarter after having rushed for 72 yards on 12 carries, it was Clayborn, Angerer, Edds and Co. that delivered a 12-0 victory, the Hawkeyes’ 10th against just two losses in 2009 — and its second straight shutout of its Big Ten Conference rivals to the north.

Four times Iowa’s defense denied the Gophers on fourth down during the game’s final quarter. The biggest series started on Iowa’s own two after the UI was flagged for pass interference in the end zone.

The Gophers sent MarQueis Gray up the middle. No gain.

The Gophers sent Duane Bennett up the middle. No gain.

The Gophers tried to pass to the right corner. Denied.

The Gophers tried another but quarterback Adam Weber was sacked for a loss of five.

Door closed.

Game over.

This one was like the game-day weather: Not pretty. Instead of the predicted 55 degrees and sun, the sellout crowd of 70,535 was treated to 40s and gray and throwback Big Ten football, e.g. not much “O” but lots of “D.”

“If you’re a fan of defense, this has been one spectacular game by the Iowa Hawkeyes,” declared the Hawkeye Radio Network’s Ed Podolak. “They get to ride on the first bus on the way to the bowl game. I’ll be there and I’ll direct traffic.”

“It was almost like Nile Kinnick versus Bronco Nagurski today. It was a slugfest. All it needed was a little mud,” added Gary Dolphin, the radio voice of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

“They are great theatre. They keep every game close. But you kow what, they may not win pretty, they just win.”
ESPN’s Bob Griese

Iowa’s defense pitched a shutout, limited Minnesota to 201 yards of offense, claimed five sacks, forced and recovered a pair of fumbles, and grabbed a pick – and that pick by senior linebacker A.J. Edds resulted in the game’s only touchdown, a two-yard dive by Brandon Wegher that gave Iowa a 9-0 margin heading into intermission.

The victory gave Iowa 10 regular season wins for only the fourth time in school history, a total that includes three games won by 1, 2 and 3 points, respectively.

“They are great theater. They keep every game close. But you kow what, they may not win pretty, they just win,” offered ESPN’s Bob Griese.