Iowa clinches share of Big Ten title


MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- After time expired in Iowa's win over
Minnesota, Hawkeyes fans tipped over one of the goal posts in a
rather rowdy celebration.

Nobody really cared that it wasn't their stadium. After all,
Iowa had clinched at least a share of its first Big Ten title since
1990 and reached 11 wins for the first time ever.

Brad Banks threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more, and
Fred Russell ran for 194 yards as the Hawkeyes (No. 5 ESPN/USA Today, No. 6 AP) forced six
turnovers and beat the Golden Gophers 45-21.

Jermelle Lewis added 101 yards rushing for the Hawkeyes (11-1,
8-0), who finished undefeated in conference play for the first time
since 1922.

"It was really a special win,'' said Kirk Ferentz, who was
11-24 in three seasons as Iowa's coach before this year. "A great
day for our team, staff and coaches and for the entire state of

The Hawkeyes can win the conference title outright and qualify
for the Rose Bowl if No. 2 Ohio State (11-0, 6-0) loses one of its
two remaining games. Iowa and Ohio State do not meet this season.

The Hawkeyes, whose only loss was to Iowa State of the Big 12 on
Sept. 14, won't play again for another 6 weeks and their bowl-game
fate may not be decided until the final BCS standings are released
on Dec. 8.

"We'll take anything right now,'' Banks said. "We'll just see
how things weigh out.''

Asad Abdul-Khaliq was 18-for-30 passing for 205 yards, two
interceptions and two short touchdown runs for the Golden Gophers
(7-4, 3-4), who have been bowl-eligible for a month but lost their
third straight.

Minnesota finishes at Wisconsin next week in what likely will be
a battle for a berth in the Sun Bowl.

"We're feeling pretty low,'' Abdul-Khaliq said. "We know there
are things we could've done to change the outcome of the game, but
obviously we didn't do those things.''

Banks was 9-of-17 for 100 yards, and Russell needed just 17
carries for his yards. Their efforts, plus a dominant effort from
the Hawkeyes' towering offensive line, helped Iowa win the Floyd of
Rosedale bronze pig trophy for the second straight year.

"They had big holes open for me, and I just ran right through
them,'' said Russell, who bruised his shoulder but should be
recovered by bowl time.

As it usually is when the battle for Floyd is held at the
Metrodome, the overflow crowd of 65,184 was at least half-filled
with Hawkeyes fans, and the chants of "Let's go Hawks!'' began
well before the opening kickoff.

The Gophers' contingent didn't even get a chance to counter with
their own cheers.

Banks, the nation's top-rated passer, and Russell led Iowa on a
five-play, 80-yard scoring drive to open the game.

Banks threw two passes for 40 yards and Russell rushed three
times for 35 yards, including a 10-yard TD run to make it 7-0. The
Hawkeyes didn't face a second down, and their shortest gain was 5
yards -- thanks to an offsides penalty called on Minnesota.

Abdul-Khaliq, who was well-protected most of the game, threw an
11-yard TD pass to Antoine Burns to tie the game at 7 and make the
stadium sound like a home game.

The Hawkeyes didn't let Minnesota keep the momentum for very
long. Russell ran 53 yards on the next snap, and Lewis took a pitch
from Banks and powered into the end zone from 6 yards out to put
Iowa in front.

Howard Hodges stripped Abdul-Khaliq on a sack early in the
second quarter and recovered the ball at the Gophers 15. Banks
scored on an 11-yard scramble to his left, dragging Ken Williams in
the end zone with him to make it 21-7.

A perfectly thrown ball to Maurice Brown on the next drive went
for a 31-yard TD, Brown's 10th of the season.

Aided by a third-down roughing-the-passer penalty on Iowa
defensive end Matt Roth, Minnesota cut the lead to 28-14 on a
1-yard keeper by Abdul-Khaliq with 32 seconds left before halftime.

Any chance the Gophers had in the second half was wiped out by

"We can't expect to do that against anyone and win a
ballgame,'' said Minnesota coach Glen Mason. "We have to protect
the ball better.''

Thomas Tapeh fumbled on the first possession -- replays showed
his knee was down as Hodges popped the ball out -- and Iowa went the
other way for a 3-yard TD toss from Banks to Clinton Solomon.

Midway through the fourth quarter, Iowa went for it on
fourth-and-goal at the 1, and Brown lost 4 yards on a run.

But two plays later, Abdul-Khaliq fumbled. Banks sneaked in from
the 1 to put the game out of reach.

After it was over, Iowa fans streamed out of the stands and
mobbed the team on the sideline. Ferentz was carried off the field.

"What a special group,'' Ferentz said. "I appreciate those
guys not dropping me, too. I want them just to enjoy this and
appreciate it.''


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