Minnesota blows past Indiana 35-14

Nov. 20, 2021: The Golden Gophers went on the road and dominated Indiana scoring 35 unanswered points, winning 35-14, moving to 7-4 on the season.

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Full Game Recap:

  • Pregame/injuries: There were no significant inactives for the Gophers, but Indiana’s leading rusher Stephen Carr was out of the lineup for the Hoosiers.
  • First-Quarter: The Gophers’ offense looked to be dominant out of the gate. With an 8:19 drive, it seemed like they would get some points, until getting stuffed on a 4th & 1 in the red zone. Indiana’s offense carried the momentum into a dominant drive right down the field. 12 runs for 85 yards and a touchdown, put the Gophers down 7-0.
  • Second-Quarter: It was a different story to start the second quarter, as both teams opened with three-and-outs. Minnesota responded another long offensive drive of 6:02, but this time it was capped off by a Ky Thomas TD evening the game at seven. The slow start from Minnesota’s defense seemed like ancient history forcing another Indiana punt. Another dominant drive was capped off by Ky Thomas‘ second TD of the day, and it was highlighted by a 48-yard reception by Brevyn Spann-Ford. The Hoosiers then gave the ball right back on an INT. Minnesota took advantage with a terrific Chris Autman-Bell TD on what seemed to be the first time this season they have scored a TD in the final minute of the first half. 21-7 Minnesota heading into the locker room.

Second Half:

  • Third-Quarter: An absolutely thrilling start to the second half would begin with three straight punts. The Gophers would finally get things started with a patented long drive. Chris Autman-Bell reeled in his second TD of the day on a beautiful contested catch, giving Minnesota a 28-7 lead. After Jordan Howden reeled in the second INT of the day for the Gophers, Minnesota was able to retain possession for much of the third quarter.
  • Fourth-Quarter: The fourth quarter was much of the same — a snooze fest. A plethora of punts made for a rather boring quarter of football, but the Gophers defense continued to flex their muscles. A final offensive drive for the Maroon & Gold was capped off by a Bucky Iriving TD widening the lead to 35-7.

Instant Reaction & Takeaways:

The Golden Gophers did what needed to be done. Indiana was seriously banged up, on its third-string true freshman QB and they had nothing to play for heading into this game. Tanner Morgan put together was arguably his best first half of the season completing 11 of 16 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown and finished 14 of 20 for 196 yards and 2 TDs. If not for a failed fourth-down conversion on the first drive of the game, the Gophers had nearly a flawless first half. Mike Sanford Jr. was calling one of his best games of the season and the Minnesota offense was rolling. The offensive line showed up again, making for another dominant game on the ground with 47 carries, for 197 yards, and 3 TDs. Chris Autman-Bell also had one of his best games of the season with 4 catches for 44 yards and 2 TDs. It was overall one of the most complete offensive performances of the season from the Gophers, something that should’ve been expected against a struggling Indiana team.

Defensively the Gophers had another terrific performance. It was a bit of a slow start once again, but once they settled in Indiana was not able to find any success whatsoever. After totaling 92 yards on the first drive of the game, Indiana was able to find just over 100 yards in the rest of the contest. Jack Gibbens manned the middle once again at the linebacker position, Tyler Nubin‘s INT really led to the Gophers taking control of the game, and the defensive line was dominant like usual. There was really very little to complain about on either side of the ball.

What is Next?:

The biggest thing that this result tells me is that this Gophers team knows they still have a lot to play for. It would’ve been very easy for this team to pack it in after coming up short in Iowa City last weekend, but they didn’t. An 8-4 season with a win over Wisconsin and a trip to a solid bowl game could be great momentum heading into next season. It is obviously a massive disappointment, given where this team could be with just a few bounces, but it is refreshing to see that they’re not letting the past bother them.

As I am writing this it looks like Wisconsin will get past Nebraska, and Iowa already took down Illinois, so next week’s Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe will be bigger for one team than the other. Spoiling Wisconsin’s season so Iowa can go to the Big Ten championship game, really doesn’t seem like a huge win, but it can be a huge win for the Gophers. Falling to both Wisconsin and Iowa would make this season that much more disappointing, but one trophy victory could be massive momentum heading into next season.

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