Gophers 44, Purdue 31
The recap: Purdue led 28-23 at halftime, but the Gophers capitalized on three turnovers and outscored the Boilermakers 21-3 in the second half. Rodney Smith rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns, and Mitch Leidner had 305 yards of total offense with two rushing TDs.
What was learned: Tracy Claeys and defensive coordinator Jay Sawvel made critical halftime adjustments. After using one high safety and getting burned for two long touchdown passes, the Gophers used two high safeties in the second half, stymying Purdue’s big-play offense.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
• Purdue took its last timeout with 2:13 remaining. On third-and-1, Mitch Leidner rushed 3 yards for a first down with 2:07 left. Some wondered why the Gophers didn’t take a knee three times, using the 40 seconds between plays to let time expire.
“It was only one score at that time,” Claeys said. “Anything can happen, so we’re going to play that out.”
On the next play, Smith made a big cut and rushed 14 yards for the clinching touchdown. But by kneeling, the Gophers could have avoided going back on defense. On Purdue’s final drive, Nick Rallis got ejected for targeting, which forces him to miss the first half of the Nebraska game.
• After warmups, Claeys always asks for an update on kicker Emmit Carpenter’s range. Normally, graduate assistant Adam Hippe tells Claeys that Carpenter is good out to the 30 (for the line of scrimmage). Saturday, with almost no wind, Hippe said “35.”
Sure enough, the Gophers’ first drive stalled at the Purdue 34. Claeys said, “I’d rather know now than on the last kick of the game.”
Carpenter nailed the 52-yarder with room to spare. Later in the first half, he hit from 53 yards, becoming the first Gophers kicker to make two 50-plus-yarders since Adam Bailey in 1997.
UP NEXT: at Nebraska
Time: 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Memorial Stadium
TV: BTN. Radio: 100.3-FM
Records: Gophers 7-2, 4-2 Big Ten; Nebraska 7-2, 4-2
The skinny: Claeys said the Gophers must prepare for two quarterbacks, not knowing whether Tommy Armstrong Jr. will be ready to return. Armstrong was knocked unconscious in the first half of the Cornhuskers62-3 loss at Ohio State on Saturday night. Removed on a stretcher, Armstrong went to the hospital, but he looked spry when he returned to the sidelines in street clothes in the second half. Armstrong has thrown eight interceptions in nine games, but he still makes that team go. Backup Ryker Fyfe lost at Purdue last year and completed only five of 18 passes at Ohio State.