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Minnesota Football: Darius Taylor emerges to lead the Gophers to a 25-6 win over Eastern Michigan

A classic non-conference win for PJ Fleck and the Gophers

Eastern Michigan v Minnesota Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Minnesota Gophers improved to 2-0 on the season with a methodical 25-6 win over Eastern Michigan. The Gopher offense moved the ball up and down the field, racking up 413 yards rushing while Athan Kaliakmanis was an efficient 10/15 passing with 117 yards.

It was a slow first half where Minnesota had just 3 possessions. The Gophers took all three inside the EMU 10 but only came away with 10 points turning it over on downs at the 4, a 24-yard FG from the 6, and finally got a Darius Taylor touchdown from the 2.

Eastern Michigan also ran the ball well in the first half with their two primary backs averaging over 7 yards per carry.

And the game was a very close 10-6 Gopher lead at the half.

A game where the Gophers ran the ball with tremendous success all over the field...except in the redzone. Darius Tayler and Sean Tyler combined for 286 yards (a 5.7 average). The problem is that on trips inside the 10 they averaged 1.6 yards per carry on 12 carries and Kaliakmanis was 0/3 passing.

The second half was all Minnesota, it was Taylor running all over EMU and the Gopher defense not allowing the Eagles to do anything on offense. The Joe Rossi defense really shut down the Eagles offense in the 2nd half allowing just 4 total yards and zero first downs.

Even after a couple of offensive mistakes in the 4th quarter, the other units picked them up.

A Tyler fumble resulted in a blocked punt for a safety. And then on the next possession, a Brevyn Spann-Ford tipped pass was intercepted. Devon Williams then picked off Austin Smith 4 plays later to give the Gopher offense the ball back. This time they slowly marched downfield, eating up a lot of clock before stalling (again)

But the real story of this game might be the emergence of Taylor. The true freshman got his first 100-yard game in just his second career game. He was given the ball 34 times for 195 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns and he added 2 receptions for 13 yards. A fantastic game for the emerging freshman.

While the first half wasn’t pretty, it was an elite 2nd half by the Gophers in all three phases.

Up next, a trip to North Carolina to face a ranked opponent.