The Minnesota-Iowa game lived up to expectations of being a truly hideous display of offensive football (and, conversely, some great defense and special teams). The game that closed with the lowest Vegas point total in history at 30.5 ended in a 12-10 Minnesota win, but not without some serious late game drama.
After stalling out once again on offense, Iowa, trailing 12-10, punted the ball back to Minnesota with two minutes to play and all three timeouts. The Gophers proceeded to go three-and-out, including throwing an incompletion, and had to punt the ball back to Iowa (into the wind) with just over 1:40 to play. Given the most dangerous weapon on Iowa’s team is defensive back/punt returner Cooper DeJean, this represented the probable best opportunity for Iowa to win the game.
Sure enough, DeJean delivered an unbelievable return off a bouncing ball on the sideline for what looked to be the go-ahead TD (and, given how these offenses operated, likely the game winner).
COOPER DEJEAN HOLY SHIT!!!!!!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Kbmj6xusm4
— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthew_CFB) October 21, 2023
However, there was a lengthy review of the play, which the TV broadcast assumed was to look at whether he stayed in bounds, but apparently was more concerned with DeJean’s actions before fielding the punt. Replay ruled that DeJean waving Iowa blockers away from the ball constituted a fair catch, as explained on the broadcast by the rules analyst, which meant the play was dead the moment he touched the ball, negating his unbelievable return.
Reggie Smith breaks down the ruling that called back an Iowa punt return touchdown. pic.twitter.com/eknp29L3Ok
— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) October 21, 2023
Iowa would, of course, go backwards on the ensuing drive, with Deacon Hill throwing an interception with a minute to play to, finally, put an end to the game.