GOPHERS 17, ILLINOIS 3
The recap: The Gophers rode a stingy defense and an effective running game to bowl eligibility by winning their fourth consecutive visit to Illinois.
What was learned: Injuries and inexperience are wracking the Gophers offense, but Minnesota clearly is improving as the season wears on.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
• Donnell Kirkwood's 152 rushing yards gave him 819 on the season, the first Gophers running back to surpass 700 yards since Amir Pinnix rushed for 1,272 in 2006.
• Kirkwood's big day, plus 55 yards from Rodrick Williams, powered the Gophers to a 231-yard effort on the ground. The Gophers are 4-0 this year when they rush for more than 200 yards.
• Only six Gophers caught a pass, and only two (Brandon Green and Isaac Fruechte) caught more than one, both season lows.
• The Gophers recovered two Illinois fumbles, their first fumble recoveries in six Big Ten games. For the season, Minnesota is minus-1 in turnover margin.
UP NEXT: AT NO. 16 NEBRASKA
2:30 p.m. Saturday, Memorial Stadium, Lincoln, Neb.
TV: BTN. Radio: 100.3-FM
Records: Gophers 6-4, 2-4 Big Ten; Nebraska 8-2, 5-1
The skinny: The Cornhuskers can clinch a share of the Legends Division title with a victory, and a berth in the Big Ten Championship Game against Wisconsin with a win and a Michigan loss to Iowa. History is on their side: Minnesota's last victory over Nebraska was in 1960, 15 losses ago, and the Gophers haven't beaten a ranked team on the road since 2000. Behind quarterback Taylor Martinez, the Huskers lead the Big Ten in total offense.