By JAMES ALLAN
IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head football coach Kirk Ferentz confirmed that senior linebacker Josey Jewell will play Saturday against Minnesota, but for the Hawkeyes to hoist Floyd of Rosedale, it will come down to better execution.
Iowa (4-3, 1-3) hosts the Golden Gophers (4-3, 1-3) at 5:35 p.m. (CT) on Saturday inside Kinnick Stadium. The Hawkeyes have won 12 of the last 16 meetings in the series, including the last seven games in Iowa City.
“Minnesota had a good team last year and we had to fight our tails off last year to beat them there,” Ferentz said during a Tuesday news conference inside the Stew and LeNore Hansen Football Performance Center. “They’re well coached, they play hard and with a lot of energy, and they have a lot of good players.
“We’re going to have our hands full once again.”
Minnesota snapped a three-game losing streak and picked up its first Big Ten victory, downing Illinois, 24-17, on Oct. 21. The Gophers opened league action with losses to Maryland (24-31), at Purdue (17-31), and at No. 21 Michigan State (27-30).
The Gophers average 27.3 points and surrender 19.0 points under first-year head coach P.J. Fleck. Minnesota has allowed more than 17 points twice in seven games.
Offensively, quarterback Conor Rhoada is competing 54.1 percent of his passes (59-of-109) for 839 yards and five touchdowns with wide receiver Tyler Johnson making 27 receptions for 499 yards and seven touchdowns.
Minnesota’s rushing tandem of Rodney Smith (545 yards) and Shannon Brooks (329) have combined for 874 yards and seven scores. The Gophers average 188 rushing yards per game.
Last season, Iowa used a 54-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown run from Akrum Wadley to down Minnesota, 14-7, in Minneapolis. In 2015, the Hawkeyes won a shootout, claiming a 40-35 victory under the lights in Kinnick.
“The last two times we have played, both games have basically come down to the last possession,” said Ferentz.
Iowa has been on the wrong end of three losses that went down to the wire in 2017. On the heels of the team’s latest setback — a 17-10 overtime defeat at Northwestern — Ferentz says the Hawkeyes must rebound and get back to work.
“The biggest thing we have to do right now is get back up on our feet and go to work on solutions to see what we can do about performing better on Saturdays,” said Ferentz.
Ferentz is pleased with the team’s attitude. He says the work ethic is strong and the team is getting quality leadership. The execution was strong during (Tuesday morning’s practice), but he wants it to be consistent.
“We are going to have to continue that throughout the week,” said Ferentz. “The goal is to play our best football on Saturday. That’s what it takes to win so that’s the goal.”
Tickets are available for Saturday’s game through the Iowa Athletics Ticket Office at 800-IA-HAWKS or at hawkeyesports.com. The game will be televised on FS1 with Joe Davis, Brady Quinn, and Bruce Feldman on the call.