It looked all but over, until it wasn’t.
Minnesota running back Mohamed Ibrahim was gashing the Hawkeyes, with big play after big play. In totality, the Gophers handed him the ball 39 (!!!) times. He turned those carries into a Huntington Bank Stadium record 263 yards.
But one of those carries may have fumbled away his Gophers’ chances of winning the Big Ten West. Knotted up at 10, Ibrahim carried his team all the way down to the Iowa 13 with just over five minutes left to play. He was on his way to picking up yet another first down on a 3rd and 4.
Then, Jack Campbell happened.
Iowa’s All-American linebacker got into the scrum and dislodged the football. Deontae Craig picked it up and gave the Hawkeyes life when they desperately needed it. But that alone wouldn’t be enough.
Iowa subsequently punted and before you or I could blink the Gophers were marching down the field at the Iowa 33.
Then, Jack Campbell happened. Again.
Gopher quarterback Athan Kaliakmanis attempted a short throw to left. Riley Moss broke it up, and Campbell scooped it up before the football hit the ground. The 6-foot-5 Campbell bulldozed his way down the sideline, and kept his feet inbounds. He should’ve had a pick six, but the officials incorrectly ruled him out of bounds at the Minnesota 45.
Iowa eventually kicked a game-winning field goal to win 13-10. Campbell did everything in his power to set the Hawkeyes up to win, and he did. But he wouldn’t take all of the credit.
“Heck of a play by Riley Moss,” Campbell opened his presser with. “It’s always a teammate that creates an opportunity for you. Just trying to get an extra hat on the ball. Got the ball popped up and took advantage of the opportunity. I’m just passionate about putting my teammates in the best situation. If there’s a big play out there, I want it to be for the team.”
A heartwarming photo of Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz and his star player embracing after the game surfaced fairly quickly. Ferentz got choked up talking about one of Iowa’s four team captains.
“Jack we know intimately in our program. Can’t say enough about him, the way he plays,” Ferentz said. “His resilience. His positive nature, everything about him is just first class. He just comes up with big plays. It’s great to see.”
Next week’s game against Nebraska could be Campbell’s final as a Hawkeye. It’s Iowa’s senior day, although Campbell does have an additional year of eligibility due to the COVID-19 season.
If Iowa wins, they’ll be back in Indianapolis for the Big Ten Championship. Campbell’s heroic performance would have propelled Iowa to five consecutive wins, and the Big Ten West title.
If this is it for Iowa’s superstar, this sure is one heck of a way to go out with a bang.