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Minnesota Gophers defeat Purdue Boilermakers

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In a nerve racking game, the Golden Gophers of Minnesota defeated the Boilermakers of Purdue. It was a game of stars that took all 4 quarters.

Pregame at the University of Minnesota Homecoming game vs Purdue, 10/18/2014
Pregame at the University of Minnesota Homecoming game vs Purdue, 10/18/2014
Rolf Addy
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Good news, bad news. The Gopher's streak of 22 losses when trailing at halftime is over! This is, the first comeback (at half) victory ever during the Jerry Kill era. That's the good news. The bad news is that it happened at all with the Gophers trailing for more than half the game. Purdue deserves a lot of credit, they're on the right track and they gave Gopher fans plenty to be worried about. I'm sure Purdue players and fans must be hurting right now; as a lifelong Gopher fan I can relate.

Via twitter.com/GopherFootball

Back in my normal seat today, I felt happy, confused, concerned, angry, and....pulse pumping (heart attack simulating) nervous! It was a good crowed today, officially a record at 51,241 fans, but not technically a sellout due to the increased seating capacity. The fans were into the game in a big way and likely played a factor in towards the end of the game with crowd noise, but at times Purdue caused the stadium to go silent; contrast this with the officials who caused plenty of news. Its time for 3 Stars, 4 Quarters, 5 Thoughts.....with a twist. Oh, and I took at the photos I took from my seat at today's game in the gallery below.

Three Stars

Star 1 - #27 David "Corn off the" Cobb (RB - SR)

At a 194 yards on 35 carries (5.5 ypc), David Cobb was only 6 yards short of his third 200 yard game of the season. If I'm doing the math right, that's just over 43.1% of all offensive yards; Cobb had no receiving yards today but was targeted once. As always Cobb did a great job of getting yards after contact and today it was more important than ever that it ate up the clock. David Cobb now has 1,013 rushing yards on the season plus another 93 receiving yards.

Star 2 - #2 Cedric "not Antonio" Thompson (DB - SR)

Two interceptions, both of which may have very well may been the difference in the game. Cedric Thompson both started and ended the game in big fashion. On the first play from scrimmage of the game, he intercepted a pass and nearly ran it back for a touchdown, setting up an easy 2-yard touchdown for David Cobb (which probably hurt his ypg a little bit). His two interceptions were the reason the Gophers once again won the turnover battle.

Star 3 - #18 Ryan "the Footso" Santoso (K - RS FR)

In some ways this was not a good game for Ryan Santoso but in the clutch he made the winning field goal. Once again his kickoffs were not we expected, in fact I would say this was his worst game in that respect by far, and he missed a PAT (only because a penalty caused him to re-kick it) when it hit the upright. He also failed to score on a two-point conversion try but Coach Kill said that someone had missed a block on that play. In regards to that play, Santoso actually looked good, both big and quick, but when he got hit he stopped dead in his tracks; I guess he shouldn't have lost all of that weight! Now I have mostly shown up to this point why he had a bad game, so why did he get the star? He gets the star because he made the play, a 52-yard field goal, when he need to. He could have made the extra points and had a perfect kickoff performance, but if he didn't make that field goal it wouldn't have mattered. Santoso also made a 20 yard field goal and 3 PATs.

Honorable Mentions

Mitch Leidner (#7 - QB - RS SO) came close to getting a star. He didn't turn the ball over (thanks to instant replay being used correctly), was 9/18 for 165 yards with 2 touchdowns, plus helped Cobb out by running for 84 yards on 13 carries (6.5 ypc) with 1 touchdown. He also had some deep balls, a 37, 42, and 45 pass. While he threw some balls high/long, he also had some balls dropped.

Via twitter.com/GopherFootball

Four Quarters Four Phases

Phase 1 - Offense

By just looking at that stats you have to say the Gophers did pretty good in this phase, and I agree they did! The Gophers had 450 total yards, which for a Gopher offense under Matt Limegrover is a lot. On the day the Gophers averaged 5.5 yards per carry and very nice 9.2 yards per pass and the won the line of scrimage. The Gophers had 22 first downs but still need improvement on 3rd downs, being only 6-12. The offense did have one turnover on a David Cobb fumble, but in the stands that was controversial. In the end, let's not forget that the offense scored 5 touchdowns. Now lets look a little bit deeper & compare how the Gophers vs Purdue compared to Michigan State at Purdue.

Purdue Def vs

MN Off

MSU Off

1st Downs

22

28

Total Yards

450

532

Passing

165

238

YPP

9.2

6.4

Rushing

285

294

YPR

5.5

6.8

3rd Downs

6-12

5-11

4th Downs

0-0

1-1

Turnovers

1

2

Time of Poss

31:47

33:07

Off TD

5

4

I would say we compared well to MSU vs Purdue in terms of offense.

Phase 2 - Defense

Everyone knows that the defense is the strength of Minnesota, but Purdue like TCU didn't get that memo. Purdue did a great job running on the outside and in the middle and also had success in passing. The Gopher defense got off to a great start with Cedric Thompson's interception on the first play and then Damien Wilson (#5 - LB - SR) intercepting another pass for a touchdown. Unfortunately that interception was called back for offside on Theiren Cockran (#55 - DE - RS JR) which at the game looked like it might be a bad call (did he get back in time?). Purdue's quarterback Austin Appleby (16/26, 153 passing, 3 TD, 2 INT, 10 carries, 79 yards) took that second chance and passed with it, getting a huge 55 yard pass for a touchdown. Quite the quick 14 point swing; after only 20 seconds of the game it was 7-7 when it could have been 14-0. After this drive the defense never again stopped Purdue the first half allowing Purdue to score 4 touchdowns and a field goal. The defense looked confused, especially the DBs again, but made some changes at half. In the second half the defense looked much better, giving up only one touchdown on the second drive of the half and forcing 3 punts and one turnover on downs plus the interception on Purdue's last drive. That said, they still got ran over and gave up a lot of medium yardage plays. Let's compare our effort to the effort by MSU.

Purdue Off vs

MN Def

MSU Def

1st Downs

17

18

Total Yards

451

340

Passing

153

211

YPP

5.9

5.7

Rushing

298

129

YPR

8.5

5.2

3rd Downs

5-12

2-12

4th Downs

1-2

3-4

Turnovers

2

2

Time of Poss

28:13

26:53

Off TD

5

4

Like the Gophers, MSU gave up a lot of points with Purdue scoring on 3 of 4 possessions of the first half (2 touchdowns and 1 field goal), not including the final possession of the half in which Purdue just knelt down twice. MSU did better in the second half, just like the Gophers, forcing Purdue to punt on the first 3 possessions followed by a fumble, two touchdowns, and interception, and then turning it over on downs. Gophers compared well to MSU on passing plays but otherwise didn't stack up as well, at least in general stats.

Phase 3 - Special Teams

As I said earlier, Santoso didn't have the best game allowing many attempts at kickoff returns. When asked by KFAN on the postgame show about his kicks the last two weeks, Santoso joked that the Gophers had a great kickoff coverage team so we might as well use them. He then stated that his legs are a little tired but that it felt great to get his longest field goal of his career and also his first game winning field goal. Santoso ended the game 2/2 on field goals and 3/4 on extra points. The coverage team was ok but gave up an average of 22.7 yards on the kickoff returns include a long 37 yard return. Peter Mortell (#37 - P - RS JR) also didn't look his best but did ok with his stats looking better than reality (4 punts, 188 yards, 47 yard average, long 55 yards, 1 touchback). Purdue only returnd one punt and for only 4 yards.

On the other side of the field Purdue's special teams looked pretty good. Their kicker was 1/1 on field goals, 5/5 on extra points, and his kickoffs went into the end zone except for one which was on purpose That said, all of his kickoffs were returnable and Jalen Myrick (#28 - DB - SO) 116 yards on 6 attempts for an average of 19.3 yards and a long of 27. While in the end it would have been better if he had taken a touchback, on several of those kickoffs it looked like he was just inches away from breaking off a big one. Credit to Purdue's coverage team for not letting that happen.

Phase 4 - Intangibles

Would the Gophers have won this game on the road? That's impossible to know but I don't think they would have. The crowd was as loud as I can remember and as I said earlier I think that made a difference on some plays. Did Purdue get lucky due to some miscalls by the refs? Perhaps but neither team has control over that. So many plays the Gophers almost made a play but didn't. Did the Gophers make adjustments at half? Yes, they continued to be good at that. Did the players give up? Nope, and that's a been a hallmark of Coach Kills teams.

Via twitter.com/GopherFootball

Five Thoughts

1st Thought

A perfect day. It was a beautiful, perfect Fall day for any activity but this is the weather, this stadium, is what people think of when they think of college football; if not, they should. I don't know about the shade side, but over on the sunny side many of us had to remove a layer.

2nd Thought

Recruits. While not quite the performance we wanted to give, I'm sure they got a good show, especially with the atmosphere in the stadium. The student section was great with the lower portion full well before kickoff. As I walked by the entrance to the tunnel, it was backed up all the way with students ready to send the players to the field.

3rd Thought

Stupid penalties. Too me the biggest disappointment of the year so far is stupid penalties. Penalties can take the game away from you as they almost did today. Both teams had 7 penalties with 55 yards for the Boilermakers and 66 yards for the Gophers. For some reason, the penalties on the Gophers seemed worse.

4th Thought

Bowl eligibility. 6-1 and bowl eligible! Due to our 11:00 am (CST) kickoff, the Gophers were the first Big Ten team to become eligible for a bowl game; better yet it will be our third bowl in a row!

5th Thought

Perseverance. The players didn't give up when they easily could have. Sure there was times that it seemed everything was going against them but they got up, dusted off their pants, and got right back into it. This has been a hallmark for the Minnesota under Kill and today for the first time it paid off with a victory for the first time when they trailed at half. The fans also didn't give up, they didn't leave when thing looked down as they have so often had in the past.

Via twitter.com/GopherFootball