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No. 5 Iowa fights past resilient Minnesota to extend perfect start to 10-0

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Iowa is 10-0 for the first time in school history.

The fifth-ranked Hawkeyes never trailed in a 40-35 win over Minnesota before a sellout crowd Saturday at Kinnick Stadium and reclaimed Floyd of Rosedale after an embarrassing defeat to the Golden Gophers last year in this historic rivalry.

Junior running back LeShun Daniels punctuated Iowa's 11th win over Minnesota in 15 years with a 51-yard burst for a touchdown with 2:01 to play after the Gophers cut the lead to one score with five minutes left.

Daniels, starting his first game since Week 2, rushed for 195 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries. Iowa Quarterback C.J. Beathard, who limped off and missed one play on the final drive, was effective again in improving to 11-0 as the Hawkeyes' starting QB.

Iowa bettered its 9-0 start of 2009 and avoided an upset bid against the Gophers, who showed well on offense in the wake of an emotional month that culminated with the installation of Tracy Claeys as permanent head coach after the Oct. 28 retirement of Jerry Kill for health reasons.

Iowa led 24-14 at the half after operating to near perfection on offense in the first 30 minutes, but it left the door open in the third quarter by producing just three points on two possessions.

The Gophers ate nearly seven minutes of clock with a 14-play, 75-yard drive to cut Iowa's lead to 27-21, then scored on a 1-yard dive by Rodrick Williams. Desmond King took the ensuing kickoff 58 yards in the final minute of the third quarter, and the Hawkeyes cashed in with a 29-yard, third-down strike by Beathard to Tevaun Smith before the QB scored on a 1-yard sneak.

From there, the Hawkeyes forced a pair of punts but went nowhere offensively and allowed a 42-yard pass from running back Shannon Brooks to tight end Drew Wolitarsky with 5:32 left, which cut Iowa's lead to 33-28.

Iowa scored on Daniels' long run before the Gophers answered with a quick score behind QB Mitch Leidner, who threw for 259 yards and rushed for 32, accounting for two touchdowns.

Ryan Santoso booted an onside kick out of bounds as Iowa retook possession to ice the win.

What the win means for Iowa: Nothing fazes the Hawkeyes. Not an eye-opening jump this week in the College Football Playoff rankings. Not a frenzied night-game environment in Iowa City, with the best start in program history on the line. Iowa looks averse to feeling the pressure, which bodes well for Senior Day against Purdue, as Iowa bids for 11-0 -- and then a big Black Friday visit to Nebraska. The Huskers can secure bowl eligibility and potentially knock off a second undefeated Big Ten foe in the final month of the season. Iowa is in the crosshairs. Again Saturday, it didn't matter.

What the loss means for Minnesota: It was another punch in the gut for the Gophers, who have lost four in a row for the first time since 2011, Kill's first season. Much has happened since then, highlighted by a pair of eight-win seasons. Despite its 4-6 record, with just one win in league play and dimming bowl hopes, the Gophers are in a much better place they were than four years ago. They've simply worn down this year because of injuries and the emotional toll of Kill's departure. Brighter days are ahead for Claeys.

Player of the game: Beathard. Iowa's junior quarterback continues to come up big. He is now 11-0 as a starter after a near-spotless performance against the Gophers. Beathard completed 18 of 26 throws for 213 yards. After the Hawkeyes dialed back his running plays for much of the Big Ten season as the QB dealt with multiple lower-body injuries, Beathard showed his early-season burst with 50 rushing yards. He scored twice on the ground. His first TD, in fact, came on a second-quarter naked bootleg from the 1-yard line -- the exact play coach Kirk Ferentz said the Hawkeyes would limit as Beathard dealt with the injuries.

The game turned when: Iowa scored on its final drive of the second quarter. The Hawkeyes hit Minnesota with all they had in the first 30 minutes and scored on every possession, yet the Gophers traded punches and trailed just 17-14 after a Peter Mortell punt to the Iowa 3-yard line with 3:52 left in the half. Conceivably, with a defensive stop, the Gophers were in good position to go into the half tied or ahead. But the Hawkeyes marched 97 yards in 3:08 to lead by 10. They faced just one third down on the possession, which extended a season-long trend: Iowa has outscored foes 44-0 in the final two minutes of the first half.