No. 23 Iowa hands No. 7 Minnesota its first loss, 23-19

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Minnesota’s undefeated run came to an end in a place where the Gophers have struggled.

Nate Stanley threw two touchdown passes and Tyler Goodson ran for a score to help No. 23 Iowa beat No. 7 Minnesota 23-19 on Saturday, handing the Gophers their first loss while hurting their playoff prospects.

The Gophers (9-1, 6-1, No. 8 College Football Playoff) haven’t won at Kinnick Stadium since 1999, losing nine straight on the road in the series. The loss will hurt them in the rankings, but they stay in control of their own fate in the Big Ten West Division race.

That, coach P.J. Fleck said, is something his team needs to remember.

“This is one game,” Fleck said. “Everything else is sitting right in front of us. If we can play a game that poorly, we can come back from it.

“This is not the end of the world. It hurts. It should hurt — it’s a rivalry game. This is what college football is all about. … This is one game. That’s all that means.”

The Hawkeyes (7-3, 4-3) struck quickly, scoring touchdowns on their first three possessions, then held off Minnesota’s charge in the second half for their first victory over a ranked opponent this season.

“We did a great job of controlling the first half,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “We knew we were going to have to score some points today. It’s no mirage how many points they’ve scored, the yards that they’ve had.”

“We had to open it up,” said wide receiver Nico Ragaini, who scored Iowa’s first touchdown on a 21-yard pass from Stanley.

“Defensively, we started too slow,” Minnesota linebacker Thomas Barber said. “You can’t do that in a Big Ten game.”

Minnesota got to 23-19 with 3:27 to play when Rodney Smith scored on a 1-yard dive. But Brock Walker’s extra-point attempt missed. Iowa’s Nate Wieting then recovered the onside kick.

The Gophers had a final chance. But quarterback Tanner Morgan was sacked by Joe Evans and A.J. Epenesa on back-to-back plays, then backup Cole Kramer’s pass was intercepted by Riley Moss on fourth down.

Stanley threw for 173 yards. Goodson rushed for 94 yards.

Morgan threw for 368 yards. Tyler Johnson had nine catches for 170 yards. The Gophers had 431 yards of offense.

“The biggest accomplishment there is we kept them out of the end zone,” Ferentz said.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/collegesports/article/No-23-Iowa-hands-No-7-Minnesota-its-first-loss-14840990.php.

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