Gophers 35, Indiana 14
The recap: The Gophers got back on the winning track Saturday, shaking off a slow start and early 7-0 deficit to overwhelm the Hoosiers at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. Behind a solid day from quarterback Tanner Morgan (14-for-20, 196 yards, two touchdowns), the Gophers scored TDs on five consecutive trips to the red zone after their initial foray was turned back by a fourth-down stop from the Indiana 7.
Minnesota (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) scored three TDs in the final 6:04 of the first half, including two in the final minute. After Ky Thomas' 1-yard TD run made it 14-7 with 46 seconds left in the half, safety Tyler Nubin intercepted Donaven McCulley's pass and returned it to the Indiana 31. Morgan connected with Chris Autman-Bell on a fade in the end zone for a 14-yard TD with 14 seconds left. The play originally was ruled incomplete but reversed on a replay review.
The Gophers defense allowed Indiana (2-9, 0-8) to drive 92 yards on its first possession, but the Hoosiers mustered only 23 yards on their next eight possessions. Indiana's Ty Fryfogle, a third-team All-America and the Big Ten receiver of the year in 2020, had only 9 yards on two touches.
'Playing catch with each other'
Gophers punter Mark Crawford pinned Indiana inside its 20-yard line on three of his four punts, and he teamed with Phillip Howard for the special teams highlight of the day.
In the third quarter, Crawford punted from the Hoosiers 40, and Howard, a sixth-year senior, raced down the field to catch the ball and down it on the 2. That helped Minnesota's defense force a three-and-out, and the Gophers offense took over at its 44 and drove 56 yards for a 28-7 lead.
"We call it, 'Just play catch with each other,' '' Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. "It looks really easy, but it's really not as easy as it looks. Phillip Howard has had a knack for that for many years, and Crawford is kind of an unsung hero in how good he is and where he can place the football.''
Olson stands alone
Gophers sixth-year senior guard Conner Olson made his 56th career start, breaking a Big Ten career record that he shared with former Ohio State offensive lineman Billy Pierce (2014-17). Olson, who has started every game since the beginning of the 2017 season, earned his record on a solid day for the Gophers offensive line, which paved the way for a 195-yard rushing game, 36:43 in time of possession and no sacks by the Hoosiers.
Plenty of seats available
Saturday's announced attendance was 38,079, but Memorial Stadium might have been one-fifth full. The get-in price of a ticket on vividseats.com a half-hour before kickoff was $2. That was just another sign of the difficult season for the Hoosiers, who were ranked No. 17 in the Associated Press preseason poll.
Up next: No. 15 Wisconsin
3 p.m. Saturday, Huntington Bank Stadium, Ch. 9, 100.3-FM
The skinny: In a game with major Big Ten West Division championship implications, the Gophers are host to the Badgers (8-3, 6-2) in the 131st meeting between the rivals and the 73rd for Paul Bunyan's Axe. Wisconsin can win the West with a victory. If Wisconsin loses, it still could win the West with losses by Iowa and Purdue.
Wisconsin won its seventh consecutive game, 35-28 over Nebraska on Saturday in Madison, but had to work to do so. Braelon Allen's 53-yard TD run with 3:50 left in the fourth quarter was the difference. Allen rushed 22 times for 228 yards and three TDs in a game that was tied four times.