Sports

Stung by upset loss, Gophers try to bounce back vs. Hawkeyes in fight for pig, division race

  • FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2014, file photo, Minnesota running back David Cobb (27) cuts against San Jose State cornerback Maurice McKnight (10) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis. Minnesota renews its rivalry against Iowa on Saturday, Nov. 8, with the Gophers trying to regain possession of that prized bronze pig trophy. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2014, file photo, Minnesota running back David Cobb (27) cuts against San Jose State cornerback Maurice McKnight (10) in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Minneapolis. Minnesota renews its rivalry against Iowa on Saturday, Nov. 8, with the Gophers trying to regain possession of that prized bronze pig trophy. (AP Photo/Andy Clayton-King, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2014, file photo, Iowa running back Mark Weisman (45) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run over Iowa State defensive backs T.J. Mutcherson (22) and Qujuan Floyd (26) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa renews a rivalry against Minnesota on Saturday, Nov. 8, with the Gophers trying to regain possession of that prized bronze pig trophy. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2014, file photo, Iowa running back Mark Weisman (45) scores on a 1-yard touchdown run over Iowa State defensive backs T.J. Mutcherson (22) and Qujuan Floyd (26) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Iowa City, Iowa. Iowa renews a rivalry against Minnesota on Saturday, Nov. 8, with the Gophers trying to regain possession of that prized bronze pig trophy. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2012, file photo, Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, left, talks with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz before an NCAA college football game in Iowa City, Iowa. As the Iowa-Minnesota rivalry is renewed, with the Gophers trying to regain possession of that prized bronze pig after two straight wins in the series by the Hawkeyes, this game is for more than just the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. It's one of several head-to-head matchups this month that will shape the Big Ten West race. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

    FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2012, file photo, Minnesota coach Jerry Kill, left, talks with Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz before an NCAA college football game in Iowa City, Iowa. As the Iowa-Minnesota rivalry is renewed, with the Gophers trying to regain possession of that prized bronze pig after two straight wins in the series by the Hawkeyes, this game is for more than just the Floyd of Rosedale trophy. It's one of several head-to-head matchups this month that will shape the Big Ten West race. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)  (The Associated Press)

This game against Iowa was building up to be so big for Minnesota.

The Gophers just needed to win at Illinois, a team struggling as much as any in the Big Ten. Then they'd emerge from a week off in sole possession of first place in the West Division, with an unbeaten record in conference play and the benefit of staying home to host the Hawkeyes.

Well, the Gophers fumbled away their control of the race with that 28-24 loss.

But the Iowa game is always one of the most-anticipated each year for Minnesota. The Floyd of Rosedale Trophy is at stake, the bronze pig they've been playing for since 1935. And the game Saturday will still play a major role in shaping the four-way West Division chase.