Tanner Morgan, in his first collegiate start threw for 3 touchdowns and 302 yards leading the Golden Gophers to their first Big Ten win of the season. What appeared to be a decisive win got very dicey before Minnesota eventually wins 38-31 over the Indiana Hoosiers, making their first visit to TCF Bank Stadium.
Early Indiana moved the ball with relative ease on the Gopher defense. Their first two drives of the game were a combined 26 plays for 129 yards. But in both cases the Gopher defense made key, 3rd down stops inside the red zone to force field goals. The very next Gopher possession was a Shannon Brooks fumble in Gopher territory. But once again the Minnesota defense held and the Hoosiers to three again.
Big hat tip to the Gopher defense for limiting Indiana’s big plays and keeping the Hoosiers from scoring touchdowns (in the first three quarters).
Then it was the offense’s turn. Having already scored one touchdown on their opening drive, now trailing 7-9...the following two Gopher possessions were a 14 play, 75 yard touchdown drive followed by a 12 play, 99 yard touchdown drive. Both drives capped by a Tyler Johnson catch and run for another touchdown. Now a 21-9 lead at the half.
The second half began and the Gophers did not lose any of their momentum (till the 4th quarter). The offense went 53 yards on 11 plays, before a sack effectively ended up forcing a field goal. Then special teams wanted to get in the action and they blocked the Hoosier punt. Three plays later it was Shannon Brooks, rushing for 17 yards and another touchdown and a 31-9 lead.
This is how the 3rd quarter ended and then the 4th quarter got interesting. A 22-point lead and all the momentum in the world.
- Indiana very quickly strikes with a 43-yard pass from Peyton Ramsey to Donovan Hale (31-15)
- Minnesota fumbles
- Indiana scores on a 37-yard pass to Ty Fryfogle, Indiana converts 2-point conversion (31-23)
- Minnesota throws an interception
- Indiana throws an interception
- Minnesota punts
- Indiana converts on 4th down with a 29-yard QB scramble and scores on the next play
- Indiana converts the 2-point conversion (31-31)
- Minnesota punts
- Indiana gets stopped on 3rd and 1 by a great play by Blake Cashman
- Minnesota scores in 1 play, 67 yards to Rashod Bateman
- Indiana gets sacked, fumbles
- Minnesota assumes victory formation
This game got drunk, in a hurry.
Through three quarters this was a very well-played game by the Gophers. The offense was efficient, the defense was solid and special teams made plays. Then the wheels came off in a big way. Eventually the team made 2 huge plays to seal it. The 67-yard, cold-blooded touchdown was followed by the Carter Coughlin strip sack.
Notably, the offense put up some really big numbers.
- 302 yards passing by Tanner Morgan (17/24 passing) to go with 3 touchdown passes
- 154 yards rushing by Shannon Brooks and a touchdown
- 108 yards receiving by Rashod Bateman and a touchdown
- 102 yards receiving by Tyler Johnson and 2 touchdowns
But they also contributed 4 turnovers, which very nearly cost them the game.
Consistency was discussed on this blog earlier in the week, tonight that was on full display. When the offence was efficient and when the defense was playing soundly, this was a game they were sailing to a comfortable win. Once things started to become unhinged, it resulted in 22-unanswered points in the 4th quarter. There are plenty of things to be figured out yet.
Despite the cardiac arrest inducing 4th quarter, the Gophers did win this game. They are 4-4 with a trip to Illinois next week.
Also, it is important to note that Brooks had a really great game in his first game back since tearing his ACL last year. Unfortunately he went down again early in the 4th quarter in what looks like another knee injury. Hopefully it is not nearly as serious as it looked, but we will find out more this week.
Enjoy your college football Saturday, Gopher fans.