It was a battle of teams looking for their first Big Ten wins. Both Purdue and Minnesota have struggled to an 0-3 start in the Big Ten and the loser of today's game would have a difficult road to bowl eligibility. But it was the Gophers led by true freshman Philip Nelson on offense and senior, Michael Carter on defense who won this game in impressive fashion 44-28.
Minnesota started the game with the ball and quickly managed a three-and-out, giving the ball to Purdue who drove down and took an early 7-0 lead. That drive included a 40-yard run by Akeem Shavers and was capped with a Caleb TerBush to Brandon Cotttom 1-yard touchdown pass. That was as good as it got for Purdue because Minnesota then scored the next 44 points amassing an insurmountable lead.
Their next four possessions all resulted in touchdowns, the two after those were field goals, then a defensive touchdown and finally another field goal. Seven offensive possessions with points. Purdue managed a minor rally in the third quarter scoring two touchdowns with Robert Marve taking over at quarterback but by then it was too late.
It is really difficult to determine who was the player of the game. Philip Nelson had a great game in his first start at home going 15/22, 246 yards, 3 touchdowns and 37 yards rushing. At one point he completed 12 consecutive passes and made great throws on scoring strikes of 34, 38 and 63 yards. On the other side of the ball Michael Carter recorded 6 pass breakups, had 6 tackles and had an interception for a touchdown. The six pass breakups in a single game ties a Gopher record. This is a really good "problem" to have.
How about we give Nelson the player of the first half and award and Carter is player of the second half.
It was a fun game and much needed for the Gophers. I mentioned Nelson and Carter but many others also had very good games. Troy Stoudermire had a couple nice breakups and a pick that was called back because of an offsides, the defensive line got good pressure, Kirkwood ran for over 130 yards, the OL played great, AJ Barker played well, Gray made two great catches and I could go on.
One win from earning a bowl game with four left to play.