Minnesota coach Glen Mason knew his Golden Gophers, on the road and down 11 points at halftime, had the Iowa Hawkeyes right where they wanted them.
"In the first half, Iowa made the plays. We didn't panic. We talked about what we had to do. We made some big plays and got the job done," Mason said Saturday after the 17th-ranked Golden Gophers rallied past Iowa 25-21.
Minnesota trailed the entire way until Bruce scored a touchdown on a 73-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Along with Bruce, Minnesota linebacker Sean Hoffman made key plays for the Golden Gophers, including knocking down a pass in the end zone with 8 seconds remaining to secure a win for his team.
"We knew that it was too far to run on the last play, so we decided to pass," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "I thought we had a good play called. Minnesota made the play and we didn't."
The Golden Gophers won their third straight game and finished with a 4-0 road record. That's the first time that's happened for them since 1904. Minnesota (8-3, 5-3 Big Ten) also earned its eighth regular-season win, the most since the 1967 team went 8-2 and shared the conference championship.
"When we first got here, everyone talked about turning the program around," quarterback Billy Cockerham said. "It feels great to accomplish what we set out to do."
Iowa (1-10, 0-8) dropped its 13th straight Big Ten game and finished with its worst record since the 1973 team went 0-11.
"It's a tough pill to swallow. It hurts," quarterback Scott Mullen said.
Dan Nystrom's third field goal of the game, from 46 yards with 3:22 left, gave the Golden Gophers their four-point lead and left Iowa with one final possession.
Mullen, who completed 28 of 51 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns, marched the Hawkeyes from their own 23 to the Minnesota 22 wih 57 seconds remaining.
On a fourth-and-six, he hit Kevin Kasper over the middle for a 17-yard gain and a first down at the Minnesota 5. A false-start penalty cost Iowa 5 yards and Mullen misfired on his next two passes, including overthrowing an open Chris Oliver in the left corner of the end zone with 26 seconds remaining.
A shuttle pass to Rob Thein gained 7 yards to the Minnesota 3, where Iowa faced fourth-and-goal.
Mullen dropped back and spotted an open Ryan Barton over the middle just inside the end zone, but Hoffman deflected the ball and the Golden Gophers took over on downs and ran out the clock.
Hoffman also recovered a fumble by Mullen on a quarterback draw on Iowa's first possession of the third quarter, which led to Nystrom's 37-yard field goal that sliced Iowa's lead to 21-13 with 9:38 left in the quarter.
Minnesota made it 21-15 when Mullen, scrambling in the end zone, was flagged for intentional grounding 38 seconds before the period ended.
Bruce pushed the Golden Gophers into the lead, 22-21, when he took a lateral from Cockerham at the Minnesota 27, raced down the left sideline and cut back to the middle to beat Joe Slattery to the end zone with 9:15 to play.
Cockerham completed 14 of 24 passes for 175 yards and also was Minnesota's leading rusher with 122 yards on 15 carries.
He finished the day with 297 yards to give him 2,639 total yards for the season to break the school's single-season mark of 2,492 yards set in 1995 by Cory Sauter.
The Golden Gophers didn't look anything like the conference's third-best defensive team in the first half as they trailed 21-10.
Mullen threw to Kasper for a 33-yard TD pass, a 6-yard scoring toss to Bashir Yamini and a 7-yard touchdown throw to Ladell Betts
all in the second quarter against a Minnesota secondary ranked first in the league, allowing just 156 passing yards per game.
Cockerham had staked Minnesota to a 7-0 lead, highlighting a 99-yard drive with a 47-yard option keeper, with a 20-yard touchdown strike to Ron Johnson.
Nystrom booted a 24-yard field goal with 8:52 left in the second quarter after Mullen's TD pass to Kasper had tied the game at 7.
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