Gophers replay Gophers 38, Indiana 31
The Gophers ended a four-game losing streak Friday night by building a 31-9 lead over the Hoosiers, seeing Indiana rally to tie the score 31-31, then getting a 67-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Morgan to Rashod Bateman with 1:34 left in the fourth quarter.
Morgan, starting in place of injured Zack Annexstad, completed 17 of 24 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns with an interception. Shannon Brooks, making his 2018 debut, rushed 22 times for 154 yards and a TD before leaving in the fourth quarter because of a right knee injury. Bateman caught four passes for 108 yards, and Tyler Johnson had five catches for 102 yards and two TDs.
The victory, which ended a six-game Big Ten losing streak that dated to last year, improved the Gophers to 4-4 overall and 1-4 in the conference. It almost didn’t happen, because three second-half turnovers and a 27-yard punt in the second half enabled Indiana to come storming back.
“We let them back in the game and at times we could have finished the game, but ultimately we found a way,’’ Morgan said.
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Kudos for Cashman
Gophers senior linebacker Blake Cashman made a game-high 10 tackles, all solo stops, against the Hoosiers. His play this season has the attention of Pro Football Focus’ college evaluators, who have Cashman as the highest-graded linebacker in the Big Ten this season, ahead of Michigan’s Devin Bush Jr., Purdue’s Markus Bailey, Wisconsin’s T.J. Edwards and Maryland’s Antoine Brooks Jr. Cashman ranks third in the Big Ten with 68 tackles and is tied for third with 11.5 tackles for loss.
Gophers junior rush end Carter Coughlin leads the Big Ten with nine sacks, 2.5 ahead of Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson. Coughlin also ranks second in the conference with 12 tackles for loss. Penn State defensive lineman Yetur Gross-Matos leads with 12.5.
Up next: at Illinois
2:30 p.m. Saturday, Memorial Stadium
TV (radio): BTN (100.3-FM)
The skinny: Remember all those big plays the Gophers gave up at Maryland? Well, Illinois took it a step further with its 63-33 loss to the Terrapins in College Park. Maryland rolled up 712 yards of offense on Illinois, which is allowing 535.6 yards per game, last in the Big Ten and 128th of 130 teams nationally. The Terps had six touchdown plays of 40 yards or longer, including a 97-yard kickoff return.
M.J. Rivers II, the Illini’s starting quarterback, completed only three of 13 passes for 45 yards and was knocked out of the game in the second quarter. AJ Bush Jr. took over and passed for two fourth-quarter TDs after Illinois trailed 56-19.
“It’s kind of beyond words the feelings we have right now,” said Illini coach Lovie Smith, whose team fell to 3-5 overall and 1-4 in the Big Ten. “There’s been some cracks that we’ve seen, but not like this.”