Big Ten West-leading Iowa absorbed more tough injury news ahead of Saturday’s visit from conference rival Minnesota.
Hawkeyes tight end Erick All will miss the remainder of the season after suffering a right knee injury — reportedly a torn ACL — during last week’s victory at Wisconsin.
The No. 24 Hawkeyes (6-1, 3-1) have struggled to move the ball as it is, so losing a reliable weapon presents a significant roadblock.
“Just really unfortunate. He’s done a great job as a newcomer to the team,” Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz said of All, who has 21 catches for 299 yards and three touchdowns this season. “Just a great addition. Such a positive guy, hard-working, great personality.”
Iowa has won three straight games and has returned to the Top 25 for the first time since suffering a demoralizing 31-0 shutout at No. 7 Penn State on Sept. 23.
The Hawkeyes turned in arguably their most defensively dominant victory during their streak in the contest at Wisconsin, prevailing 15-6 despite getting outgained 332-237.
All caught two passes for 19 yards and finished as the team’s leading receiver. Leshon Williams rushed for 174 yards — including an 82-yard touchdown — as Iowa continued to squeeze whatever it can from a banged-up attack.
Quarterback Cade McNamara tore his left ACL in a Sept. 30 win against Michigan State and is out for the season.
Offensive struggles notwithstanding, the Hawkeyes are 5-0 this season in games decided by 10 points or fewer.
Minnesota (3-3, 1-2) has lost three of four games following a 2-0 start but looks to be well-rested for its second straight test against a ranked foe.
The Golden Gophers haven’t played since suffering a 52-10 home rout to No. 2 Michigan on Oct. 7. Minnesota quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis threw for a touchdown to Daniel Jackson but also had a pair of interceptions returned for scores.
Minnesota amassed just 169 yards of total offense, with 35 coming on the touchdown connection between Kaliakmanis and Jackson in the final minute of the first half.
Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said he feels Kaliakmanis, a sophomore, is “maturing with every game” in his first full season as a starter and compared his development to growing a bank account.
“He’s just putting more deposits in there by the game mentally, physically and emotionally,” Fleck said. “I think we all see he’s got every physical skill, but it’s going through different environments, going through different situations, having the ebbs and flow of a game, the response mechanisms, the leadership, influence and everybody on the football team based on your body language and everything that goes into lay with that learning.”
Efficient, smart play will be imperative as the Golden Gophers aim to snap an eight-game losing streak in the Floyd of Rosedale trophy series. The Hawkeyes, who trail 62-52-2 in the series, have won three of the past four meetings by five points or less.
“We know how good they are,” Fleck said. “The game has been really close the last few years, as a rivalry should be. I think both teams really respect the rivalry, and the fan base really [does], too. Obviously, Iowa’s had the upper hand over the years, but we’re prepared to do everything we can to be 1-0.”