MINNEAPOLIS — Devin Mockobee rushed for 102 yards and a late touchdown to fill Purdue’s lead, and the Boilermakers defense fueled yet another takedown from a ranked opponent in a 20-10 win over No. 21 Minnesota on Saturday.
Cam Allen had two of Purdue’s three interceptions from Tanner Morgan, one in the end zone in the second quarter and one in the closing minutes. Quarterback Aidan O’Connell returned from a one-game injury absence for the Boilermakers (3-2, 1-1 Big Ten) and rebounded from two interceptions in the first half to lead two runs for scores in the final 5 minutes .
With star Mohamed Ibrahim holding out after what appeared to be a minor ankle injury in Minnesota’s previous game, the Gophers (4-1, 1-1) were choked to the ground for just 47 yards on 26 attempts. After so many shootouts between these teams over the years, defenses ruled the day and the Boilermakers managed to do better to stop a four game loss streak to Minnesota.
The Spoilermakers is more like it. They defeated #2 Iowa last season and #3 Michigan State and three ranked teams in 2018. This time they defeated a Gophers team beating its first four opponents 183-24. The only other teams in the FBS not left behind this week were Georgia and Washington.
The Boilermakers had three turnovers and three three-and-outs over seven consecutive scoreless possessions, until O’Connell found a rhythm on a 70m march midway through the fourth quarter that set up Mitchell Fineran’s second field goal of the game for a 13-10 lead. with 4:57 left.
Charlie Jones, who had 41 catches and seven touchdowns in the first four games to lead FBS, had six receptions for 55 yards. Jones caught a 28-yard pass on the drive to put the Boilermakers in prime position to advance.
The Gophers went three and out, then Mockobee delivered the deadly shot by rumbling through their defenses for a 68 yards gain to set up his score on the next game.
Bryce Williams, who led the Gophers with 35 yards on 11 rushes, scored on a 1-yard run to tie the game at 10 in the third quarter. After averaging 295 rushing yards over the first four games, the Gophers scored just 17 yards on the ground on 15 tries in the first half.
The Gophers were unable to escape their previous misfires. Matthew Trickett missed a 28-yard field goal in the first quarter. Morgan had a pass bouncing off Michael Brown-Stephens’ chest and into Allen’s arms in the end zone in the second quarter. The Gophers also got the fourth and 1 of their own 29, when backup quarterback Cole Kramer ran a failed draw.
Minnesota’s homecoming was also ruined by Bowling Green last season. That 14-10 defeat was largely due to a passing game that went in disarray at the time. Morgan was 5 for 13 for 59 yards, two interceptions and four sacks that day.
The Boilermakers were eager to pay for their final game here, a 34-31 loss to an empty stadium during the pandemic when tight end Payne Durham was called up for a disputed offensive pass interference penalty to nullify what would have been the green light touchdown and the Gophers then intercepted Jack Plummer to seal the win.
After returning to the Associated Press Top 25 this week for the first time in nearly two years, the Gophers are likely to drop out of the rankings.
THE TAKE OUT
Purdue: Missing three injured starters on offense, the Boilermakers have long executed one of the Big Ten’s most powerful passing strikes, even before Coach Jeff Brohm arrived. Their defense has been catching up and this was a solid performance from both the players and coaches on that side of the ball. There’s no reason to believe the Boilermakers won’t be battling it out for the Big Ten West division title to the very end.
Minnesota: The only problem with playing so well in the first third of the season was the lack of action in tense situations, especially for the defense. No matter how much coach PJ Fleck and his staff push the one-game-at-a-time approach, delays are part of human nature. With the lack of sustained drives from the attack, the defense was not fresh in the trajectory – and it showed.
Purdue will play in Maryland next Saturday.
Minnesota has next week off and will play in Illinois on October 15.