Bret Bielema owns the Gophers like Aaron Rodgers owns the Bears. Like the Yankees own the Twins. Like any playoff opponent has owned the Twins since 2002, come to think of it.

The dominance was confirmed, once again, on Saturday at Memorial Stadium in Champaign, where the Gophers were favored to beat the Illini but watched Bielema's offense roll up 472 yards against one of the nation's best defenses en route to a 26-14 victory that was more lopsided than the score suggests.

Gophers quarterback Tanner Morgan, before he was knocked out of the game in the fourth quarter while scrambling, was limited to 21 yards passing as the Illini pressured him and the secondary stuck to Minnesota receivers. Mo Ibrahim's 44-yard run in the second quarter and a 92-yard kickoff return by Quentin Redding to open the third were the Gophers' biggest plays of the day. Except for a handful of effective runs by Ibrahim, the Gophers offense was handled by an Illini defense that entered Saturday leading the nation in scoring average.

"They put you in third-and-long," Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "And it's going to be a long day."

If Pedro Martinez played for the Gophers, he would call Bielema his daddy.

Fleck has enough on his plate, having lost consecutive games to Purdue and Illinois and the prospects of a three-game losing streak looming as the Gophers travel to Penn State next week. That challenge could be tougher if Morgan, who left the game after being struck in the head by Illinois freshman linebacker Gabe Jacas during a tackle, is unable to play.

Now he's looking at the scoreboard. Bielema 9, Gophers 0. And 2-0, and counting, against Fleck.

This run of domination goes back to 2006, when Bryan Cupito was the Gophers quarterback handing off to Amir Pinnix. Other Gophers quarterbacks like MarQueis Gray, Mitch Leidner, Demry Croft and now Morgan tried and failed to beat a Bielema-coached team. Head coaches Glen Mason, Tim Brewster, Jerry Kill, Tracy Claeys and now Fleck have been on the other sideline as Bielema has either helped the Badgers clutch Paul Bunyan's Axe or aided Illinois quest to become a credible program.

None of them could beat Bielema, who was 7-0 against the Gophers before leaving for Arkansas, where he coached for five seasons.

Last year's 14-6 loss to Illinois at Huntington Bank Stadium was even more troubling, as Bielema was sifting through the smoldering ashes of the program Lovie Smith burned to the ground while the Gophers were 6-2 at the time and still had a chance at being a factor in the Big Ten West race. But Illinois held the Gophers scoreless until late in the fourth quarter.

The one flaw at an otherwise lovely Huntington Bank Stadium is that the visiting athletic director's suite is located next to the press box. Illinois AD Josh Whitman left the suite door open during the entire game, and the racket he and his guests made as Illinois pulled off the upset was heard throughout the press level.

On Saturday, the Gophers were again the betting favorite, even after it was learned that Illinois quarterback Tommy DeVito had recovered from an ankle injury and would start. DeVito completed his first 10 passes, including one in which he hit running back Chase Brown on a wheel route that turned into a 40-yard touchdown on the opening drive of the game. It was evident then that the Gophers were in trouble on homecoming day in Champaign.

Illinois now is 6-1 and bowl eligible after defeating the Gophers. The Gophers have questions to answer after their defense faltered and their passing game was nonexistent.

One question Illinois doesn't have to ask, as long as Bielema is coach, is whom to schedule for homecoming.

The Star Tribune did not send the writer of this article to the game. This was written using a broadcast, interviews and other material.