GOPHERS REPLAY: Gophers 31, Maryland 10
The recap: With Mitch Leidner out with a concussion, Conor Rhoda helped keep the Gophers turnover-free. Rodney Smith rushed for a career-high 144 yards with two touchdowns, and Shannon Brooks added 86 yards rushing, along with a 17-yard TD on a screen pass from Rhoda.
What was learned: Rhoda proved he can run the offense effectively, especially when the offensive line opens creases for the dynamic duo of Smith and Brooks. Rhoda has a strong arm and throws a nice ball, even if the Gophers didn’t need much of that Saturday.
YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED:
• Maryland finished with 10 points and 291 total yards, but much of that came in the fourth quarter, once the Gophers had built a 17-0 lead. After three quarters, the Terps had zero points, 100 total yards and four first downs, compared with 15 for Minnesota. The Terps ran only two plays in Minnesota territory until early in the fourth quarter.
• Emmit Carpenter entered Saturday 9-for-9 on field goal attempts but missed a 36-yarder in the first quarter. Coach Tracy Claeys was disappointed not to score after KiAnte Hardin’s interception had given Minnesota the ball at the Maryland 36. “But [Carpenter] did come back and hit one later [a 37-yarder in the third quarter] that was important,” Claeys said.
• A Maryland linebacker baited the Gophers into their first false-start penalty by clapping just before the snap, mimicking Rhoda’s cadence. Defenses can’t do that. Claeys complained to the officials, and it didn’t happen again. The same thing happened against Oregon State. Teams know the Gophers are susceptible, with 15 false-start penalties in six games.
UP NEXT: Rutgers
11 a.m., TCF Bank Stadium
TV: ESPNU. Radio: 100.3-FM
Records: Gophers 4-2, 1-2 Big Ten; Rutgers 2-5, 0-4
The skinny: After starting 2-1 under first-year coach Chris Ash, Rutgers battled Iowa in a 14-7 home loss. But whatever scrappiness the Scarlet Knights showed early has disappeared. Rutgers lost 58-0 to Ohio State and 78-0 to Michigan. When Illinois took a 17-0 lead Saturday, the Knights had given up 160 consecutive points, dating to the fourth quarter of the Iowa game. Janarion Gant, a dynamic wide receiver and returner, suffered a season-ending ankle injury. Ash has flipped between quarterbacks Chris Laviano and Giovanni Rescigno, searching for answers.