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Gopher Defense fuels an impressive win over Purdue 41-10

A complete reversal by a much maligned defense results in a dominating performance

NCAA Football: Purdue at Minnesota Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Golden Gophers earned their 5th win of the year by upsetting Purdue 41-10. Yes...I used the word upset. Purdue has won 5 of their last 6 games, beating 3 ranked teams and were 10 point road favorites today. Minnesota on the other hand has been giving up an average of 43 points per game in Big Ten games and fired their defensive coordinator this week. Today the Gopher defense was outstanding today against a very explosive and talented Purdue offense.

The first half saw the Gopher defense not allow Purdue past the 50 and the Boilermakers were 0/6 on third down. The lone possession in Gopher territory was due to a Tanner Morgan interception that saw Purdue start at the Gopher 38 that resulted in a field goal.

The offense moved the ball well, getting to the red zone three times, settling for two field goals and converting one trip into a touchdown. The result was 2 field goals was a 13-3 halftime lead.

Then the second half happened. Minnesota took control early and never let their foot off the gas.

On the third play of the half Blake Cashman stripped David Blough and returned the fumble 46 yards for a touchdown. The touchdown gave the Gophers a 20-3 lead.

Purdue followed that defensive touchdown up with a three-and-out. The Gopher offense took over going 89 yards on 5 plays in 2:59 to score the team’s second touchdown in the first 5 minutes of the half. Very quickly the Gophers had a 27-3 lead and they weren’t finished.

The Gopher offense put up 2 more touchdowns before Purdue put together their first touchdown drive, scoring with 5:28 left in the game. At that point it was 41-10 and the game was never within reach or in any doubt.

In the second half it was the ground game that absolutely dominated. The offensive line opened up huge holes while Mohamed Ibrahim and Bryce Williams broke arm tackles as they racked up 174 yards rushing in the second half alone. Ibrahim finished with 155 yards rushing.

You, like the rest of us, may be wondering...”what the hell happened?” I don’t have answer for how the Gophers dominated or why they dominated, but they did.

This was a game where Purdue was just never in it. The line of scrimmage was controlled by Minnesota. Purdue shot themselves in the foot with multiple, costly penalties. And they spent most of the second half looking like they were anxious to get back into a warm locker room and go home.

Two key stats of the day for you.

  • Purdue on 3rd down - the Boilermakers were 0/12 on third down for the game.
  • Big Plays - a stat that has been in the opponent’s favor all year was completely flipped today. Purdue had exactly 0 plays over 20 yards while Minnesota had 5, and all of those were 30 or more.

Credit to Joe Rossi and the Gopher defense for those stats and never letting Purdue get comfortable on offense. Cashman’s forced fumble and touchdown were back breaking. Thomas Barber’s 1.5 sacks to go with his 8 tackles (in a game with very few Purdue runs) was important.

An elite game overall by the Gophers and a huge win for a team that was struggling. They are now just 1 win away from being bowl eligible. Up next is a home game against the Big Ten West leading Northwestern Wildcats.