Gophers players talk heading to Iowa out of bye week

Quinn Carroll remembers the last time the University of Minnesota football team beat Iowa.

It was in 2014 at then TCF Bank Stadium, a dominating performance in a 51-14 victory highlighted by Mitch Leidner and Maxx Williams. A then Edina middle school student at 12 or 13 years old, Carroll was at the game with his family as his dad played for the Gophers.

"I remember watching Joe Bjorklund pick up the pig and hoist it over his head. I’m hoping to do the same thing," Carroll said.

Minnesota has a chance to bring Floyd of Rosedale, a 98-pound bronze pig, back to Minneapolis for the first time in nine years with a win at Kinnick Stadium on Saturday. That’s something the program hasn’t done since 1999. The Gophers have won in Iowa City just twice in the last 34 years. But it’s a rivalry game, and anything can happen.

"It means a lot. Growing up in Minnesota, my dad playing for the Gophers. It means a lot to this program as we take it one game at a time," Carroll said. "Try not to make any one game bigger than the other, but it still means a lot."


P.J. Fleck’s program preaches growing through failure, and there’s not a better example of it than redshirt sophomore quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis. He said he spent his bye week working on his throwing accuracy through various fundamentals.

It hasn’t been the season Kaliakmanis had in mind in his first full season as a starting quarterback. He’s completing 55 percent of his passes for 797 yards, averaging just 132.8 per game. He has six touchdowns, and six interceptions. Two of those were returned for touchdowns in a 52-10 loss to Michigan two weeks ago.

Kaliakmanis was the starter last year against Iowa as the Gophers had multiple opportunities to win back the pig. But Mo Ibrahim fumbled, and Kaliakmanis was intercepted by Jack Campbell in another crushing loss. Kaliakmanis has watched that film and learned from that loss.

"There are some plays that can lose games, but there are plays that can win games. My pick last year, Mo’s fumble, those are plays you wish you could have back," Kaliakmanis said. "We get to play them again, learn from the mistakes and it’s time to apply the things that we’ve learned."


Fifth year senior safety Tyler Nubin spent his bye week getting back to basics and fundamentals. The Gophers haven’t been the defensive juggernaut this year that’s gotten them to nine win seasons three of the past four years entering 2023.

A team that was in the top-10 in several defensive categories is now No. 63 in total defense, No. 82 in passing defense and No. 74 in scoring defense.

Nubin, in what might be his final season at Minnesota, is also chasing history. He has three interceptions this year and 11 for his career, one shy of the program record of 12, held by both Jeff Wright and Sean Lumpkin. Nubin says he’ll look at that after the season.

"That’s not what I’m worried about, honestly. I’ll look up and see how many I got after the season, but every single game I’m looking to go out there and change the game and get interceptions and make big plays for my team," Nubin said. I’m not too concerned with the record."

The Gophers need to find at least three more wins between Iowa, Michigan State, Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue and Wisconsin to assure themselves a bowl game. For now, what matters is Iowa on Saturday.