Minnesota beat Illinois 40-17 on the strength of its running game.
Yes, that is not a typo. Minnesota, behind an impressive offensive line performance and brilliant games from Rodney Smith and Shannon Brooks, ran all over Illinois. Through three quarters, Smith had more rushing yards than Illinois had total yards. Shannon Brooks also broke 100 yards on the day.
Other Rapid Notes
The Minnesota offensive line was a significant part of Smith and Brooks’s big day. Illinois must have shown on film that they had trouble defending an outside zone because the Gophers ran it early and often. The line did a great job of following their assignments to make sure that the Minnesota running backs were able to get to the second level cleanly.
Tanner Morgan accounted for five touchdowns on the day. Three of them were for Minnesota, and two were for Illinois. Unfortunately, not every game will be a 95% completion percentage day. Still, Morgan did precisely what was needed to win this game.
Minnesota’s defense allowed 3 points on the day. That is a good defense. Illinois may not be a good team (understatement), but good defensive performances make bad teams look bad.