“The ball is the program.” We’ve heard that over and over from PJ Fleck. Turnover margin is so critical to winning and losing, tonight the Gophers were +3 in turnovers and paid off. Oregon State had 3 fumbles to just 1 for Minnesota as the Gophers ran away with this one 48-14 for a big road win.
THE STAT: OK, so I’ve mentioned turnover margin a few times already, but the other key stat was time of possession. With a lead-a lead they extended and held throughout the second half-the Gophers ran the ball a lot. This led to total domination of time of possession. A much improved game by the offensive line, a good game by both Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith resulted in 253 yards rushing and a 38:16 - 21:44 advantage in time of possession.
TURNING POINT: Oregon State overcame two costly fumbles in the first quarter to play a solid second quarter, making the game 20-14 at the half, with the Beavers getting the ball. But Minnesota dominated the third quarter. The real turning point was when Thomas Barber forced a fumble on OSU’s second drive of the third quarter. Jonathan Celistin (who had a great game) recovered and three plays later Rodney Smith plunged in for a 1-yard touchdown to put the Gophers up 27-14.
HOT: Tyler Johnson had another huge play for a touchdown and another big game as the Gopher’s leading receiver. 4 catches, 127 yards and a 67-yard touchdown for the game’s initial score. This kid is good.
BAD MOVE: Demry Croft getting a little careless on a snap that resulted in a fumble and led to a short Beaver touchdown. That turnover and resulting score, along with very good play by Connor Rhoda, seemed to doom him to being the back-up quarterback for now. Not to take anything away from Rhoda, who had a nice game leading the Gopher offense. But this game appeared as though Rhoda took the job.
NOTABLE: The Gopher defense was really quite good again today. The second half was a shutout and 80 yards rushing and just 145 yards through the air. Particularly Jonathan Celestin had a great game making 10 tackles and putting pressure on the quarterback often.
UP NEXT: Middle Tennessee State, who went up to New York and beat Syracuse today 30-23. The Blue Raiders are going to be a very good test for the Gophers, especially in the secondary.