Skip to main content

Gophers vs. Purdue: 5 things you can count on

Can the Gophers get back on track after a catastrophic loss to Illinois?
  • Author:
  • Publish date:

The Minnesota Gophers will look to get back on track as they travel to Purdue on Saturday afternoon. 

The Gophers enter the game with a 5-4 overall record and a 3-3 record in conference play. The Boilermakers are last in the Big Ten West with a 2-7 record and a 1-5 mark in the Big Ten.

Minnesota will look to keep its divisional title hopes alive after last week's loss to Illinois and is a game behind Iowa for the division lead. A trip to Purdue should be a get-right moment for the Gophers but here are five things you can count on for Saturday's matchup.

Kickoff: 2:30 p.m.

How to watch: NBC, Peacock

How to listen: KFAN 100.3FM.

1. Success on the ground

The Gophers have a heavy emphasis on the running game and it should be the preferred way to attack Purdue's defense.

The Boilermakers come into Saturday's game last in the Big Ten with 942 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns allowed this season. Purdue has particularly struggled against the run in the red zone, leading the Big Ten with 11 rushing touchdowns allowed inside the 20-yard line.

Ranking fifth in the conference with 165.4 rushing yards per game, Minnesota should have no problem exploiting Purdue's defense even if Darius Taylor misses another game due to injury after sitting out last week's loss to Illinois.

2. A conservative second half

Of course, the Gophers problem hasn't been running the ball or even getting off to a fast start. Minnesota's biggest issue has come in the second half when P.J. Fleck assumes the controls and has a hyper-conservative approach to the offense.

Ryan Burns of Gopher Illustrated highlights that Athan Kaliakmanis has completed 75.9 percent of his passes for 320 passing yards and three touchdowns in the first half of the last two games against Michigan State and Illinois. But Kaliakmanis has completed a total of three passes in the second halves of those games.

The conservative approach has allowed teams to stay in games with the Gophers and led to the big plays that have kept them from taking charge in a weak division.

3. The Gopher defense creating turnovers

The Boilermakers don't have the best passing numbers but that hasn't stopped them from ranking third in the Big Ten with 310 attempts this season.

Texas transfer Hudson Card has been inconsistent for the Boilermakers at quarterback, completing just 57.8 percent of his passes for 1,861 yards with nine touchdowns and eight interceptions but also has a knack for turning the ball over with 18 turnover-worthy plays this season per Pro Football Focus.

The Gophers' passing defense has been susceptible to big plays through the air this year, but they've also found a way to create takeaways. After forcing Illinois into three turnovers last week, Minnesota will need to have that trend continue against the Boilermakers.

4. Purdue's running game posing a threat

Purdue wants to throw the ball but they also have a capable rushing attack that could cause problems for the Gophers.

Devin Mockobee killed the Gophers in last year's loss by running for 112 yards at Huntington Bank Stadium and Iowa transfer Tyrone Tracy Jr. has combined with Mockobee to post 5.4 yards per carry in Purdue's wins this season.

The Gophers enter Saturday fourth in the Big Ten with 113.4 rushing yards allowed per game and will need to stop the Boilermaker's ground attack to come away with a win.

5. The Gophers getting a bounce-back victory

It's hard to feel good about the Gophers after last week's loss to Illinois and part of that lies on whether P.J. Fleck has learned anything about his close losses.

His inadvertent "It's on me" catchphrase has been the soundtrack of his tenure with Minnesota and he'll need to tighten up some of the gray areas that have held the Gophers back this season.

This includes playing aggressively for a full game and kicking an opponent while they're down. The Gophers are the better team in this match up but they'll have to play like it in order to pick up a much-needed win in the Big Ten West race.

Prediction: Gophers 17, Purdue 10