By Mike Hendrickson
Last week’s game was one to forget for the Gophers, and facing Purdue on the road won’t be much easier. A full breakdown and score prediction can be seen below:
When Minnesota runs the ball:
While the Gophers dynamic rushing duo of Shannon Brooks and Rodney Smith wasn’t able to find their groove last week, Purdue is a good opponent for them to bounce back against. The Boilermakers have allowed 194.6 rushing yards a game, and Brooks and Smith should be able to take advantage of that.
Matchup to watch: Rodney Smith vs. Jake Reploge
When Purdue runs the ball:
While Purdue’s running game is only 79th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in yards, their freshman running back Markell Jones is one of the better rushers in the Big Ten. Through 60 carries, he’s averaging 6.8 yards an attempt and will be facing a Minnesota rushing defense that has yet to find its groove.
Matchup to watch: Martell Jones vs. Cody Poock
When Minnesota passes the ball:
With a battered offensive line and a quarterback struggling to move the ball downfield, Minnesota won’t have the advantage in any game for the rest of the season if they continue at this pace. Purdue’s passing defense hasn’t been particularly great this season, but it has also faced two of the top quarterbacks in the FBS, Connor Cook of Michigan State and Matt Johnson of Bowling Green. They should have no problem keeping the Gophers’ passing game under control.
Matchup to watch: Mitch Leidner vs. Frankie Williams
When Purdue passes the ball:
Minnesota’s secondary has faced multiple injuries of their own, but have a good amount of depth. They might be facing Purdue’s backup quarterback, freshman David Blough, if their No. 1 starter Austin Appleby is out again for the third game this season. Blough has been decent for the Boilermakers in the four games he’s played, compiling a rating of 120.3 and completed 60.3 percent of his passes. Still, Purdue should be another easy opponent for Minnesota’s secondary.
Matchup to watch: DeAngelo Yancey vs. Eric Murray
Other key factors:
Despite their 1-4 record, Purdue is not an easy team to beat. Minnesota has been playing not too well lately and has new injuries on top of that. The Gophers’ defense will need to create turnovers to give the offense as many opportunities to score as they possibly can.
Expect Minnesota to run the ball a lot. Head coach Jerry Kill emphasized this in his weekly press conference and also said that Leidner has looked better running the ball in practice this week than he has all season. If Brooks, Smith and Leidner all put up big games, Purdue stands no chance.
Purdue 21, Minnesota 10
With the way the Gophers have been playing lately, and Purdue’s near win against No. 4 Michigan State last week, this a very hard game for the Gophers. The injuries will make it even more difficult for Minnesota to pull out a victory and will have a hard time generating offense.