Guest Entry: Looking Back at Iowa

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Occasionally here on the official Golden Gopher Football Blog, we'll feature guest contributors, including Mike Ricci, editor and webmaster of the football program's official site --

It's been an interesting week or so around the Gibson-Nagurski Football Complex for the Maroon and Gold. There was the excitement in the air regarding last weekend's matchup against the rival Iowa Hawkeyes. When game day arrived, I cannot tell you the emotions brewing in the Minnesota locker room. When the team arrived in the locker room after warm-ups, they were greeted by between 80-100 former players who proceeded to give the 2011 team a round of applause for a good 90 seconds until every player was back in the locker room.
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For a lot of the Gophers in their first season, especially those not from the Midwest, this was an opportunity for them to get a feeling about what the Minnesota-Iowa rivalry was really about and what it means to former players. Players paced nervously around, trying to stifle the nervous energy that was suffocating the entire room. In the center of it all was the trophy stand holding Floyd of Rosedale. The alumni crowded around the bronze pig, perhaps recounting their memories of beating the Hawkeyes.

Then Coach Kill made his way into the locker room. The first words out of his mouth might've seemed ordinary, but I couldn't help but analyze them while filming the pregame speech. He called everyone in the locker room together --- he didn't just encourage, he insisted that the alumni also crowd up as far as possible. They were just as much of a part of this moment as the current team.

By now maybe you've heard about the video Coach Kill showed the team moments before leaving for the field, a clip from 2002 when Iowa tore down the goalposts in the Metrodome. The anger and disdain for Iowa was obvious in the eyes of the former players (especially for those who were on the 2002 team) and the adrenaline pumped harder for the current players. Kill paced the room, narrating the video.

"Where I come from -- that's STEALING!... How can you let someone come into your house and take what belongs to you?!"

The video ended. The team assembled. It was game time.

Minnesota 22, Iowa 21.

When it was all said and done on Saturday, the stadium erupted and fans young and old began to spill out onto the field to celebrate. This was a victory for the state, not just the players or the school. The energy during the post game celebration was almost impossible to put into words. People were hugging random people -- I was hugged by at least five people I have never met (and I'm not exactly a George Clooney-type). There was a sense of relief among the fans. Beating Iowa last year wasn't a fluke... Beating Iowa this year was a statement.

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