GOPHERS OFFENSE VS. BOILERMAKERS DEFENSE
The focus will be on Philip Nelson in his home college debut at quarterback, but tailbacks Donnell Kirkwood and Rodrick Williams might be more critical this week. Purdue's pass rush is its usual formidable self, and the Boilermakers lead the Big Ten in interceptions. But they have been shredded by running games in October, allowing 308 yards per Big Ten game, and by big plays, allowing 40 gains of 20 yards or more. Advantage: Gophers
GOPHERS DEFENSE VS. BOILERMAKERS DEFENSE
The Boilermakers have had only one 100-yard rusher this year, sophomore Akeem Hunt against Eastern Michigan, so perhaps the Gophers' recent habit of allowing huge running plays won't be as damaging this week. Quarterback Caleb TerBush has been mistake-prone, throwing an interception in every game he's played, but he has also thrown 10 touchdown passes. Advantage: Purdue
The Boilermakers are a strong kick-return team, and Hunt even has a 100-yard kickoff score this season. Punter Cody Webster averages 43.5 yards per punt. But Purdue's kickers have missed five extra points and haven't made a field goal longer than 40 yards. Advantage: Even
Both teams are desperate for a Big Ten victory after losing three straight conference games, so bowl berths will be on everyone's minds. The Gophers are at home, where they have beaten Purdue two of the past three meetings. Purdue is the more confident team, after nearly pulling a huge upset in Columbus. Advantage: Purdue
Both teams rely on the running game to move the ball, but a couple of long passing plays catch the defense sleeping. Philip Nelson keeps the Gophers in the game, and Minnesota finally seizes on its first turnover of the Big Ten season to earn Nelson's first victory.
NUMBERS TO KNOW
Combined Big Ten record (19-4 overall) of Purdue's three conference opponents this season..
Penalties committed by Purdue in Big Ten play, fewest in the league.
DON'T FORGET ABOUT
Second-year receiver has been quiet, but he returned a kickoff for a TD against Purdue last year.