Gophers Find Just Enough Offensive Magic (and Zebra Help) vs Purdue

Photo: Hannah Foslien - Getty Images

The Minnesota Gophers welcomed the Purdue Boilermakers into TCF Bank Stadium with open arms on Friday night. Purdue has played well in 2020 but they’ve been unable to solve the Gopher puzzle since Jeff Brohm and PJ Fleck arrived at the two Big Ten West schools.

In fact, Purdue has become the warm fuzzy blanket that Minnesota has turned to when they need a victory to swing the momentum of their season. Nothing changed in 2020. The Gophers have been waiting on that big play passing attack to return… and it did vs Purdue.

Tanner Morgan has struggled all season long but that changed today when the Gopher offense opened up its playbook and decided to use the unlimited amount of talent it has at wide receiver. Every time the ball went up in the air, Rashod Bateman and Chris Autman-Bell came down with it.

Morgan finished with 264 yards on 15/22 passing. He didn’t put up any touchdowns but the passing game was so much stronger today, than in past games. Chris Autman-Bell posted his first 100-yard game and looks like the next star WR for PJ Fleck. Mo Ibrahim had another huge day, going off for 3 more touchdowns and 102 yards on the ground (stats via ESPN).

The Gopher defense couldn’t stop Purdue very often either but they did stop the Boilermakers more than Purdue stopped them. That’s an improvement to what we’ve seen at times this season.

Late Game Mistakes Almost Cost a Win

Late in the second half, the Gophers were about to go up by 11 points but missed the extra point, keeping the game within a TD + FG’s reach. After Purdue drove down the field and scored a touchdown, cutting the Minnesota lead to 3, the Gophers offense stalled out on 3rd and short in their own territory, with just over 5 minutes left in the game..

Surprisingly, PJ Fleck went for it on 4th down and it did not go well. The Boilermakers got the ball back in field goal position (to tie) and only 31 yards from pay dirt, for the win.

Minnesota hadn’t stopped Purdue all game long.. but they forced a 3-and-out before the Boilermaker kicker missed his second field goal of the game.

Thank a referee tomorrow

The game closed out in dramatic and controversial fashion. Minnesota gave the ball back to Purdue again and they looked like they had taken the lead with just 50 seconds remaining in the game. But a flag for offensive pass interference was thrown to wipe out the 6 points. One snap later, Jack Plummer threw a game-ending interception.

I just want to thank these referees for all the hard work they do. What a great call.

The Gophers will play for The Ax in Camp Randall next weekend.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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