BLOOMINGTON, IND. – As first impressions go, the Gophers started Saturday's game as if they were sporting a ketchup stain on a white dress shirt.

Their offense was stuffed on fourth down inside Indiana's 10-yard line on its first possession, and their defense promptly gave up a 92-yard touchdown drive to a team starting a true freshman quarterback.

Instead of embarrassment, though, the Gophers quickly spiffied things up, scored three second-quarter touchdowns — two in a span of 37 seconds — and went on to a dominant 35-14 victory over the Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium.

The win ended a two-game losing streak and left the Gophers (7-4, 5-3) in a third-place tie with Purdue in the Big Ten's West Division heading into Saturday's regular-season finale against Wisconsin at Huntington Bank Stadium. Wisconsin and Iowa are tied atop the West at 6-2.

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"I'm really proud of our players' resolve and how they responded,'' Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "Last week [a 27-22 loss at Iowa] was a really emotional game, and sometimes you just don't know what you're going to get after that.''

The Gophers ended up getting a lot, including three touchdowns in the final 6:04 of the first half, plus a defensive effort that limited Indiana to 23 yards on eight possessions spanning from early in the second quarter to early in the fourth.

Tanner Morgan completed 14 of 20 passes for 196 yards and two TDs to Chris Autman-Bell, and tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford caught three passes for 67 yards. Minnesota's run game was strong, too, with Ky Thomas rushing 26 times for 105 yards and two TDs.

The Gophers intercepted Hoosiers quarterback Donaven McCulley twice and held him to 3-for-7 passing for 17 yards as Indiana (2-9, 0-8) lost its seventh consecutive game.

The Gophers took the opening kickoff and drove to the Indiana 7, but on fourth-and-1 Thomas hesitated after a handoff and was tackled for a 1-yard loss by Bryan Fitzgerald and Micah McFadden.

After the stop, Indiana responded by driving 92 yards in 14 plays for a 7-0 lead on McCulley's 11-yard TD run on third-and-6.

"We didn't start fast on either side of the ball,'' Fleck said, "but we settled down really quickly.''

The Gophers tied the score 7-7 early in the second quarter on Thomas' 2-yard TD run out of a direct snap. Two plays before that, Morgan had faked a throw to Autman-Bell, then hit Spann-Ford on a middle screen for an 11-yard gain to the 3 on third-and-6.

Then Minnesota's defense, led by Nyles Pinckney's second-down sack of McCulley, forced its second consecutive three-and-out, and the Gophers offense cashed in fully.

From the Minnesota 48, Morgan found Spann-Ford along the sideline — without a defender within 15 yards of the tight end. Spann-Ford took off toward the end zone, hurdled a Hoosier and was tackled at the 4. Two plays later, Thomas carried the ball in from the 3 for a 14-7 lead with 46 seconds left in the first half.

"That was awesome,'' Morgan said of Spann-Ford's big play. "To hurdle and be able to keep his feet like that takes a very special athlete to make that play.''

On the ensuing Indiana possession, Gophers safety Tyler Nubin intercepted McCulley's pass along the sideline and returned it 20 yards to the Hoosiers 31.

"We always talk about catching the ones they throw you,'' Nubin said. "I got my opportunity there and took advantage of it.''

Minnesota bumped the lead to 21-7 with nine seconds left in the first half when Morgan found Autman-Bell on a fade in the end zone, and the wideout made a spectacular 14-yard catch. The play originally was ruled incomplete because the official judged Autman-Bell to be out of bounds, but a video replay overturned it.

"I was like, 'Yeah, OK. We've got to review that,' '' Autman-Bell said. "Coach was literally running over to me, 'Were you in?' I said, 'For sure I was in.' ''

BOXSCORE: Gophers 35, Indiana 7

The Gophers stretched the lead to 28-7 with 2:28 left in the third quarter on Morgan's 9-yard TD pass to Autman-Bell on third-and-goal. Mar'Keise Irving's 3-yard TD run with 3:41 left in the fourth quarter boosted the lead to 35-7.

The Gophers now turn their attention to Wisconsin in the game for Paul Bunyan's Axe. More could be at stake – specifically the West Division title — if things go their way, starting with an Iowa loss at Nebraska on Friday.

"We've got to find a way to get the Axe back,'' Fleck said.