Oct. 2, 2021: Following last week’s disastrous loss to Bowling Green, the Golden Gophers got back on track with a huge win over Purdue 20-13.
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Full Game Recap:
- Pregame/injuries: As both teams faced a plethora of injuries, star WRs David Bell and Chris Autman-Bell both suited up.
- First-Quarter: The forecast called for a heavy dose of rain, and the Gophers took advantage right away. Boye Mafe got started early with his fifth sack in the last three games, but this time it came with a forced fumble. Minnesota’s offense took advantage with a Chris Autman-Bell TD on the proceeding offensive drive. Purdue answered with a field goal of its own making it 7-3 Gophers.
- Second-Quarter: Purdue opened the second quarter with a big fourth-down conversion, which ultimately resulted in a TD; regaining a lead 10-7. The Gophers would ultimately respond with a Matthew Trickett field goal of their own after a 53-yard bomb to Mike Brown-Stephens. Purdue would with another field goal regaining a 13-10 lead into the locker room, ending a relatively boring first half.
- Third-Quarter: Uncharacteristically, PJ Fleck and the Gophers came out of the locker room aggressive. An opening 50+ yard bomb to Brown-Stephens would set up a Trey Potts TD giving Minnesota a 17-13 lead. The defense would answer, as Nyles Pinckney‘s first sack in a Gophers’ uniform forced a Purdue punt.
- Fourth-Quarter: A classic rainy Big Ten game would continue into the fourth quarter. There was very little offense to be found, as a beautiful coverage play from true-freshman CB Justin Walley on a huge third down, set up a Purdue field goal that would go wide right. The Gophers offense would eventually string together a scoring drive setting a Trickett field goal, which would give them a 20-13 lead. The Minnesota defense stepped up big, and a Tyler Nubin interception would seal the deal.
Instant Reaction & Takeaways:
Well, that was quite the game. There is a lot to take away from a very “Big Ten” game. The absolute monsoon of rain made for a relatively ugly game, but the Gophers were able to squeak out a much-needed win. My biggest takeaway from this game is that this team can win ugly. Their 121 total rushing yards as a team was the lowest total of the season by a wide margin. Although it was just on two big plays to Mike Brown-Stephens I did not think we would ever see the day where this team has more passing yards than rushing. It certainly was not pretty, but this offense showed it can win ugly, and it is not completely one-dimensional.
As for the defensive side of the ball, it was another very inspiring performance from the Gophers. The early strip-sack from Boye Mafe was just one of many big plays from the front seven. The secondary put together an up-and-down day, but ultimately showed up when it mattered most. They allowed way too many big plays at inopportune times, but they showed that they can make plays when they need to. Justin Walley had a very up and down day, but his play has me very excited for his future on this team. As an entire team, the Gophers might have not “won” the battle on either side of the ball (getting outgained by 140 yards), but they showed that they don’t have to, which is huge. I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention the big day from the special teams, as punter Mark Crawford and kicker Matthew Trickett made plays when it mattered most.
What is Next?:
There is still a lot of 2021 season left to play. I think it is huge that the Gophers will have a bye week off following this game. After a seriously hectic three weeks of highs and lows from destroying Colorado to losing to Bowling Green and beating Purdue, hopefully, they can realize that they still have a lot to play for and settle in for the rest of the season. The goals might be different, but this team still has a lot left on the table, and they just showed they can beat a solid Purdue team on their home field. Even though it certainly was not pretty a win is a win, and it sometimes shouldn’t matter how you get there.
As for the rest of 2021, the Gophers will host Nebraska after their bye, host Maryland and then travel to Northwestern the night before Halloween. A 7-2 record before a mid-November meeting with Iowa is still quite possible and something that we should expect out of this team.