EAST LANSING, MICH. – Michigan State scored a touchdown on the first drive of each half Saturday and relied on one of the nation’s top defenses to do the rest in a 14-3 victory over the Gophers.
Minnesota reached the red zone three times, producing just three points, and has now played 10 consecutive quarters without playing an offensive touchdown.
Quarterback Philip Nelson left the game in the fourth quarter and did not return after being checked for a concussion. Mitch Leidner finished the game at quarterback for Minnesota. Gophers senior cornerback Brock Vereen left the game in the first quarter with a left arm injury and did not return.
Gophers coach Jerry Kill said he spoke to Nelson after the game, and the sophomore quarterback told him he was "OK." Kill declined to give injury updates.
"We have three or four guys banged up, but that’s part of football and hopefully we’ll get them all healed up," Kill said.
An announced crowd of 71,418 watched the Spartans (11-1, 8-0 in the Big Ten) tune up for next week’s conference championship game against Ohio State.
The Gophers (8-4, 4-4) will take a two-game losing streak into a bowl game to be determined. Much like last week’s 20-7 loss to Wisconsin, Minnesota showed signs of growth and toughness but simply couldn't score against a very tough defense.
The Spartans came in leading the nation in total defense (236.6 yards) and rushing defense (59.4 yards).
The Gophers actually held their own statistically, gaining 249 total yards and rushing for 125. David Cobb rushed 27 times for 101 yards.
But Nelson had a rough day even before taking the big hit, completing just six of 18 passes for 77 yards, with his first two interceptions since Sept. 28.