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Wine Online: Outdoors, Again, at Minnesota

Another January bowl game is at stake Saturday when Iowa squares off against Minnesota in the annual battle for the prized pig, Floyd of Rosedale.

Another January bowl game is at stake Saturday when Iowa squares off against Minnesota in the annual battle for the prized pig, Floyd of Rosedale.

Nov. 21, 2010


IOWA CITY, Iowa -- When Iowa's football team ends its regular season at Minnesota Saturday, the game will be played (drum roll, please) outdoors. Fans under 40 years old probably can't remember the two teams playing anywhere but the Metrodome, which opened in in downtown Minneapolis in 1982 and became home to the Gophers' football team, as well as to the Twins and Vikings, the Twin Cities' two professional teams.


The Vikings still play there, but the Twins do not. Neither do the Gophers, who moved into a new outdoor, on-campus stadium last year. This will be Iowa's first visit to the new football facility, which is called TFC Bank Stadium. Iowa named its stadium in honor of a scholar-athlete and Heisman Trophy winner. Minnesota named its stadium after a bank.

Before moving to the Metrodome, the Gophers played in an on-campus facility called Memorial Stadium, where they fielded their greatest teams. Coach Bernie Bierman won six Big Ten titles and four national championships there in the 1930s and 1940s. Minnesota was hard to beat in its old stadium, and Iowa seldom won there, once going 29 years between victories.

An exception was 1968, my first year as Iowa's SID, when the Hawkeyes left with a thrilling 35-28 victory. Quarterback Larry Lawrence scored four times and after each touchdown he threw the football high into the stands where Iowa fans were cheering. His celebratory actions caused the NCAA to rule against such behavior, which now carries a 15-yard penalty.

The Metrodome is sometimes referred to as the "Thunder Dome" because of the noise generated by those in attendance. That was particularly true when Iowa visited and half the crowd wore black and gold. The Hawkeyes played 14 times in the Dome, attracting the biggest crowd of the season.





Minnesota fans were hoping their new 50,805-seat stadium would bring success on the field, but it has not. The Gophers posted a 4-3 record at TFC Bank Stadium last season but have yet to win in six games there this year.


Iowa enjoyed success in the Metrodome, winning 8 of those 14 engagements. The first was in 1982, the year it opened, when the Hawkeyes took home a 21-16 victory. Eddie Phillips was the workhorse, carrying the ball 36 times for 198 yards and a touchdown.

My personal favorite was the 1986 game in which Iowa scored all of its points in the second half of a 30-27 victory. Minnesota's Chip Lohmiller booted a 62-yard field goal as time expired in the first half, but Iowa's Rob Houghtlin made the biggest kick, a 37-yard field goal as the game ended. Seconds earlier he had missed from 52 yards, but got a second chance when Minnesota was penalized 15 yards for having too many players on the field.

Kirk Ferentz was part of six Iowa victories in the Metrodome, three as an assistant coach and three as the head coach. Two of those wins -- in 2002 and 2004 -- were especially sweet, since they clinched a share of the Big Ten championship.

Iowa fans stormed the field after the 2002 game, tore down the goal posts and tried to carry pieces of them out of the Metrodome, causing considerable damage to the revolving exit doors. The UI paid for the repair.

Minnesota fans were hoping their new 50,805-seat stadium would bring success on the field, but it has not. The Gophers posted a 4-3 record at TFC Bank Stadium last season but have yet to win in six games there this year.

That led to the dismissal of Coach Tim Brewster, who has been replaced on an interim basis by one of his assistants, Jeff Horton. The Gophers have won only twice this season, but one was two weeks ago at Illinois. After a bye week, they hope to end the season with two straight wins and regain custody of Floyd of Rosedale.

Meanwhile the Hawkeyes have their own problems. They are saddled with two straight losses by total of seven points, which dropped them out of the Big Ten race and likely out of the Top 25.

A win at TFC Bank Stadium Saturday would give Iowa a record of 8-4 and a probable berth in a January bowl game. There is plenty to play for. Plenty. Let's hope this team wins its first game at TFC Bank Stadium and doesn't let a couple of gut-wrenching defeats ruin its season.