Gophers 41, Purdue 13
The recap: The Gophers had great field position throughout the first half but led only 10-6 at halftime. Shannon Brooks opened up the half with a 71-yard touchdown run, shoving safety Leroy Clark out of his way and making five other defenders miss. The Gophers added three more third-quarter touchdowns, more than enough for their defense.
What was learned: Coach Jerry Kill said his team had to regain its identity as a running team. The Gophers entered the game ranked last in the Big Ten in rushing (141.2 yards per game) but churned out 326 yards this time, including 176 from Brooks.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED
• The Gophers starting offensive line — Ben Lauer, Joe Bjorklund, Tyler Moore, Connor Mayes and Jonah Pirsig — came in with a combined 43 career starts. That’s the same number senior tackle Josh Campion compiled himself before suffering an unspecified injury in practice last week.
• Backup quarterback Demry Croft went 2-for-5 for only 7 yards, but he had two catchable passes dropped. One completion went to former quarterback Chris Streveler — his first career reception.
• With a commanding fourth-quarter lead, the Gophers inserted walk-on center Matt Leidner, the younger brother of quarterback Mitch Leidner, for his college debut.
• Moore and Jacob Huff became the Gophers’ eighth and ninth true freshmen to have their redshirts pulled this season. Others include: Brooks, Croft, Julian Huff, KiAnte Hardin, Blake Cashman, Rashad Still and Antonio Shenault.
• Purdue finished with 206 passing yards, but 101 of those — including a touchdown — came in the fourth quarter, when the Gophers were playing second- and third-stringers on defense.
UP NEXT: Nebraska
2:30 p.m., Saturday, TCF Bank Stadium
TV: ESPN2 • Radio: 100.3-FM
Records: Gophers 4-2, 1-1 Big Ten; Nebraska 2-4, 0-2
The skinny: It’s hard to imagine a more excruciating start to a coaching tenure than Mike Riley’s at Nebraska. The Cornhuskers have been just good enough to have their hearts broken in four games decided on the opponent’s final offensive play. Brigham Young beat the Huskers with a Hail Mary. Nebraska erased a 33-10, fourth-quarter deficit at Miami (Fla.), forcing overtime, only to lose that one. Illinois came back from 13-0 down in the fourth quarter to stun the Huskers 14-13. Then Saturday in Lincoln, Nebraska grabbed a 21-20 lead over Wisconsin with 3:38 to play. The Badgers won 23-21 on a 46-yard field goal as time expired. Riley, 62, said, “I’d have to look back a ways, but I don’t think I’ve really seen this before.”