Illinois scored seven touchdowns, including five on plays of 72, 72, 67, 30 and 77 yards, and routed the Gophers on Saturday in Champaign, Ill. Minnesota (4-5, 1-5 Big Ten) surrendered 646 yards of offense to the Fighting Illini (4-5, 2-4), whose only Big Ten victory entering the game was over lowly Rutgers.
Reggie Corbin rushed 13 times for 213 yards, setting the tone with a 72-yard TD romp on Illinois’ second play from scrimmage. On the Illini’s fourth offensive play, Dre Brown went 72 yards to make it 14-7, giving Illinois the lead for good.
“We didn’t tackle anybody [Saturday],” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said.
The Gophers offense was held in check through much of the game by an Illinois defense that gave up 712 yards to Maryland last week. Down only 24-17 entering the third quarter, the Gophers offense had five consecutive possessions in which it punted three times and lost two fumbles. Illinois pounced on that by building its lead to 45-17.
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Gophers true freshman wide receiver Rashod Bateman caught seven passes for 175 yards, including fourth-quarter touchdowns of 61 and 86 yards. In the process, Bateman broke Ron Johnson’s team record of 38 receptions by a freshman, which was set in 1998. “Two incredible plays,’’ Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan said of Bateman’s TDs. “He played extremely well throughout the game.”
Turning it over
The Gophers fumbled three times and lost two, by Morgan and wildcat quarterback Seth Green. That continued a disturbing trend. They have fumbled eight times and lost five of them in the past two games. The Gophers rank last in the Big Ten in conference games with a turnover margin of minus-8. They’ve lost seven fumbles and thrown 10 interceptions in Big Ten play.
Up next: vs. Purdue
2:30 p.m. Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium • TV (radio): ESPN2 (100.3-FM)
The skinny: The Boilermakers (6-2, 4-2 Big Ten) won for the fifth time in six games as Spencer Evans kicked a 25-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the fourth quarter to beat No. 16 Iowa 38-36 on Saturday. David Blough passed for 333 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions for Purdue, which is tied for second in the Big Ten West with Wisconsin, one game behind Northwestern.
Terry Wright caught six passes for 146 yards and three TDs for Purdue, which has defeated three ranked teams this year. Rondale Moore, who leads the Boilermakers with 74 receptions for 833 yards and seven TDs, was held to 31 yards on six catches.