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Gophers replay

  • September 23, 2012 - 9:03 PM

GOPHERS 17, SYRACUSE 10

The recap: Minnesota's defense held the Orange without a touchdown until the final minute, helping to keep the Gophers unbeaten.

What was learned: The Gophers have more than one quarterback capable of engineering enough offense to win games.

YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:

• Jon Christenson's most notable play was an unfortunate one, a holding penalty that negated a 34-yard touchdown just before halftime. But the redshirt freshman was pressed into duty at a somewhat unfamiliar position. The center was asked to play left guard when Tommy Olson sprained an ankle, in part because backup guard Joe Bjorklund did not practice all week because of a concussion.

• It's one of the least-noticed talents in football, but the Gophers have quietly become an awfully effective kickoff-coverage team. They're ranked third in the Big Ten, and on Saturday the three Gophers kickoffs that the Orange tried to return were stopped at the Syracuse 17-, 13- and 17-yard lines.

• The Gophers won despite being outgained, albeit by only 13 yards, 350-337. It's the first time they have pulled out a victory despite having fewer yards than the opposition since their 22-21 victory over Iowa last Oct. 29.

• Coach Jerry Kill is 7-4 in TCF Bank Stadium, 6-4 as coach of the Gophers.

UP NEXT: IOWA

11 a.m. Saturday, Kinnick Stadium

TV: ESPN2 • Radio: 100.3-FM

Records: Gophers 4-0, Iowa 2-2

The skinny: The Gophers haven't won in Iowa City since 1999, but that's apparently not as big a trick as it used to be. The Hawkeyes have lost at home to Iowa State this season, and on Saturday, in what has to be one of the low points of past decade for Iowa, they fell to MAC mediocrity Central Michigan, which rallied with nine points in the final 45 seconds to pull the upset. James Vandenberg, expected to be among the Big Ten's best quarterbacks, has only one TD pass in four games.

PHIL MILLER

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