Gophers celebrate winning Floyd; Kesich, Nubin earn Big Ten honors

The University of Minnesota football team celebrated history at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday, getting its first win over Iowa since 2014 and its first win in Iowa City since 1999.

Players hoisted Floyd of Rosedale in groups, hugged their families and celebrated with fans. They made sure the prized pig got a front row seat and was belted in on the Gophers’ team bus ride home. Sunday, players brought the pig to the Hall of Fame area at Athletes Village, and put Floyd in a once empty trophy case.

It now sits alongside Paul Bunyan’s Axe. It’s the first time Minnesota has had both trophies in the same year since 1993. P.J. Fleck took a picture of it before walking into his weekly session with reporters on Monday.

"Really excited to bring Floyd home. Our players put him in his pen yesterday, so that was really cool to watch them do that. First time we’ve had The Axe and the Pig in there since 1993. That means a lot, you’ve got to take that stuff in at least for a few hours, minutes or seconds, or what else are you doing it for?" Fleck said.

So how did Fleck celebrate when he got home from a very long, emotional day? It was his first win over the Hawkeyes in eight tries, and first with the Gophers after several close calls. Fleck and his wife, Heather, went to his bourbon collection. He has a bottle appropriately named, "Floyd."

They had a celebratory glass before calling it a night.

"Life is about moments and memories. I’ve had a very special bottle that’s in my bourbon cabinet that I collect. It had that name written on it. Heather and I got home and shared just a teeny bit of what it tastes like. It tastes just as good as I thought, it was worth the wait," Fleck said.


With wins over rivals come weekly conference awards. Dragan Kesich and Tyler Nubin got a pair of them Monday. Kesich was named the Big Ten Special Teams Player of the Week. He was 4-of-5 on field goals, and his 31-yarder with 8:33 to play was the difference. It was the same direction as one he missed earlier in the game into the wind, after the Gophers had gotten a turnover. 

He’s the first Gophers’ kicker to make four in a game since Emmitt Carpenter in 2016, and the first to do so in a win since Dan Nystrom in 2002.

"He’s a football player. Dragan is a football player, he’s not just a kicker. He’s one of the most fascinating, unique people you will ever meet in your entire life. He’s one of the hardest workers on the team, and he’s a kicker," Fleck said.

Nubin was named the Big Ten’s Defensive Player of the Week after four tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and one pass break-up. Nubin led a defense that limited the Hawkeyes to 127 total yards, and just 11 rushing yards on the day.


The Gophers host Michigan State on Saturday, and the running back room is running out of bodies. Zach Evans left Saturday’s game and did not return. Darius Taylor left in the fourth quarter, and did not return. 

Bryce Williams is out for the season. If Taylor and Evans can’t play Saturday, that leaves Sean Tyler and Jordan Nubin as next running backs in the rotation. Tyler has 55 carries for 227 yards in five games. Nubin has six carries for 25 yards this season.

We’ll find out who is available when Fleck releases the injury report two hours before kickoff on Saturday.

"The good thing is we got some good news on some guys. When you look at the depth, Jordan Nubin is going to have to be ready to go. Sean Tyler, and hopefully have one of those guys in the mix. Next man up," Fleck said.