Here's what you already know...
*Minnesota held a 45:34 to 14:26 time off possession advantage of MTSU.
*Minnesota ran the ball 67 times, while MTSU rushed only 22 times.
*Minnesota rushed for 281 yards, while MTSU rushed for 146 yards.
*The Gophers held the ball for 14:19 on their final two drives... just 5 seconds less than MTSU held it the entire game.
Those are nearly staggering numbers for any college football game. The Gophers ability to run the ball against the Blue Raiders lead to a TOP gap that was so dominating that it couldn't be called anything but an unmitigated success.
The Gophers had 5 drives that were over 5 minutes long, including a defense crippling, game icing 9 minute drive that essentially turned into a 14 minute drive when the Gophers got the ball back on the ensuing kickoff. MTSU had the ball for less than 6 minutes the entire second half, and a mere 2 minutes in the 4th quarter.
Final score aside, that is an incredibly dominating performance. (On a side note, I'm slightly surprised that I haven't seen more made of the offenses inability to finish drives... thanks in large part to special teams.)
But time of possession isn't just about offensive and rushing dominance, because the defense has to do their part too.
Most of the discussion around Gold Country has been about the offense, and rightfully so. But I don't think that what the defense did on Thursday night is anything to sneeze at. And believe me, I get it, the second quarter was a complete mess for the defense, but as a whole, the defense did a pretty good job of getting MTSU's offense off the field.
*Even with the two TD drives (which seemed like they were taking forever while I was watching them), MTSU didn't have a single drive that lasted over 2 minutes.
*MTSU had only ONE drive that lasted more than 5 plays.
*MTSU averaged just 4.5 plays/drive.
Again, I get it. The second quarter, and actually just the second half of the second quarter, was a complete clustermuck. But what if the Gophers had been able to hold MTSU to those same numbers, but the scoring drives were spread out over 2 or 3 quarters? Wouldn't you feel like the defensive performance was outstanding?
My point is this: the defense plays a large role in the time of possession battle and the Gopher defense absolutely did its job in winning their portion of that battle. The strength of this team is supposed to be the experienced offense with the 4 year starting quarterback, and 4th largest offensive line in the country. That being the case, the defense's job is to get off the field, and get the ball back to the strength of the team.
Despite the hiccups, a defense littered with young players that had zero returning starters, did it's job last Thursday night.