Minnesota eked out a big victory over the Boilermakers on Friday night, despite being down 22 players and three coaches due to COVID-19. Here’s how the Gophers beat Purdue:
How the Gophers Beat Purdue
Taking the Pressure Off of the Run Game
While Mohamed Ibrahim scored his 11th, 12th, and 13th touchdowns of the season, he didn’t look right. Big Ten Network reported that his trip to the medical tent was due to an equipment issue, but we’re not convinced. Ibrahim repeatedly came to the sideline after one carry, which is unlike him. He did rush 25 times for 102 yards. Redshirt freshman Cam Wiley carried seven times for 26 yards and his first collegiate touchdown.
Whether it was planned ahead of time or not, the passing game was a huge part of this win. Tanner Morgan threw for the second-fewest times all season, however, his 264 yards were the most he’s thrown for all year by a considerable margin. Last night was just the second time this season the Gophers hit 200 yards through the air. (Not surprisingly, the other time was against Illinois).
Chris Autman-Bell came up huge, with five catches averaging nearly 26 yards apiece. Rashod Bateman caught four passes for 59 yards, and the Gophers threw to TWO DIFFERENT tight ends!
It was surprising that the Boilermakers didn’t try to run the ball more than they did. Then again, they do have the third-worst rushing offense in FBS. Purdue managed just 125 yards on the ground, led by Zander Horvath’s 10 carries for 68 yards. A week after getting run all over by Iowa, it’s progress.
Sometimes it’s Better to Be Lucky Than Good
There was definitely some luck involved in this win. Purdue missed two field goals, one of which was blocked by Mariano Sori-Marin right before halftime. Then there was the famous pass interference call.
There is a camera angle where you can see the Purdue player extend and straighten his arm. It might not be the atrocious call it looks like from most angles. But it is, at best, a very weak call- the kind you hate to see play a big role in deciding a game. However, the Gophers will likely take it.
Bottom Line and Looking Ahead
It’s great to see Minnesota’s passing game taking shape and becoming more consistent. Let’s hope Ibrahim is 100% for next week. The run defense is improving, albeit against an anemic opponent, and the football gods were smiling on The Bank this weekend. That’s how the Gophers beat Purdue.
On to Wisconsin. If Ibrahim is healthy, and the team can replicate their success in the passing game, the offense is in good shape. Although, the defense is worrisome. If the secondary continues to let players get behind them at the rate they have been, the team is in trouble no matter what the offense can do. Further, in all likelihood, the team will be missing top pass rusher Boye Mafe again after missing the game against Purdue. It is unknown if his absence was part of the 22 players out for COVID-19 related reasons.
Want to know more about Wisconsin? Here’s our coverage of their beatdown of Michigan. Check back later this weekend for coverage of their match-up with #19 Northwestern.