Gophers Get Ugly Homecoming Victory vs Illinois

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It was quite the start for Demry Croft. In his first B1G start of the year, he drove the ball down the field and easily completed a touchdown pass, leaving us to think we might have found something…. which we didn’t (keep reading) Who caught it? I bet if I let you guess once, you’d get it.

A 3-and-out later and it looked like we might be on our way to a blowout, just like Vegas predicted when they had the Gophers as favorites by 13.5 points. But, I had forgotten that Minnesota isn’t allowed to have nice things, like easy victories, to make a Saturday less stressful.

So, these two plays happened in the first ten minutes. The Illini scored right after this fumble and that’s it. No more action. Actually, our oh-so-reliable kicker just missed a 30 yarder to take the lead before halftime. WTF is going on? I get that this is a different team than last year but they aren’t this bad. The Gophers need to be so much better in the 2nd half. Losing to Illinois on homecoming would be embarrassing.

Halftime Score: 7-7

The Gophers got the ball back quickly, after kicking off after halftime. Kobe McCrary took the ball about 8 times in a row and just battered his way down the field…. all the way to the 2 yard line. A failed read-option-keeper, McCrary run, and PA pass incompletion later, and the Gophers were kicking a field goal instead of scoring a touchdown. At this point, I guess we should be happy we scored…

To start the 4th quarter, the Gophers got a big stop on defense on 4th and 1. It should have been the turning point and the beginning of the end of the Illini. The fans should have been able to start turning to where they were drinking, not whether the Gophers were going to be able to beat one of the worst teams in the B1G, at home.

Instead, Demry Croft gave it right back.

But the defense held up again, like they did all day long. They played their best game of the B1G schedule but it was also against the worst team they’ve played. After getting the ball back to the offense, Fleck decided to go to what worked best all day. Running the ball. Specifically, to Kobe McCrary. He ended the day with a whopping 147 yards and this touchdown, that gave the Gophers a touchdown lead late in the 4th quarter.

The defense came up big again, on the first play after McCrary’s touchdown. This pick-6 iced the game and let all of us breathe easy, finally. The Illini drove down the field against the prevent defense after this and did score a TD before the game was over, but it was too late by then.

FINAL: Gophers WIN 24-17

Well, they won right? At least we don’t have to talk about a loss for the whole week. But, let’s be realistic. This team needs to be better. The Illini are terrible. It was nice to see the offensive line give the run game some room. It was really deflating to watch Croft. After last week, we thought we might be able to watch some competent quarterback play the rest of the season, after he replaced Rhoda. Unfortunately, against one of the worst defenses in the B1G, Croft didn’t prove anything other than the fact that the Gophers need a new quarterback. He had a brutal 47 yards passing with 1 TD and 2 INT’s…. I don’t know what the Gophers are going to do.

Wait for next year…

Eric Strack
Minnesota Sports Fan
MinnesotaSportsFan.com @RealMNSportsFan

Photo: @mjessenhoward

Stat help from ESPN

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