This inaugural edition of "Last time ..." The Daily looked at and recapped the last game between Minnesota and Purdue, which happened over one year ago.
Minnesota 17, Purdue 31
It looked like Minnesota had Purdue beat in the last matchup between the two teams on Oct. 7, 2017. It was the second Big Ten game of the season and the second Big Ten game under head coach P.J. Fleck.
Although it could have been larger, the Gophers had a 17-16 lead with under 2:30 to play during a rainy night at Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium. The Boilermakers gave up the ball four times in the first half, but the Gophers couldn't turn those into considerable points.
Purdue answered with a touchdown and two-point conversion on its next drive in the final moments of the game, making the score 24-17, and then-quarterback Conor Rhoda had 1:17 to get the score tied up with a touchdown. Instead, Rhoda threw an interception at the Purdue 27-yard line with 10 seconds to play, and Boilermakers' Ja'Whaun Bentley took that interception for a 76-yard touchdown. With that game-clinching interception, Purdue won 31-17 — the team's first victory over Minnesota since 2012.
It was an odd game. The two teams were sent to the locker room with about 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter because of a rain delay. It lasted almost an hour and a half, and most of the fans had left the rainy scene by the time the players came back.
The game marked a battle of two first-season head coaches, Fleck for Minnesota and Jeff Brohm for Purdue.
In the last matchup between the two teams, there were two different quarterbacks — Rhoda was in for Minnesota and Elijah Sindelar was the starter for Purdue. The Boilermakers now rely mostly on redshirt senior David Blough, and the Gophers on either true freshman walk-on Zack Annexstad or redshirt freshman Tanner Morgan.
None of the four rushers who were in Minnesota's box score will be playing Saturday. Shannon Brooks, who led the rushing attack that game with 116 yards, and Rodney Smith will return next season. Each suffered season-ending injuries. Rhoda and running back Kobe McCrary are ineligible in the NCAA after their four-year eligibility ended after last season.
Minnesota relied much more heavily on the running game last season, but there is currently a lack of experience at the position due to injuries. The only current Gophers' receiver who made an impact in that game was Tyler Johnson, who had two catches for 15 yards.
The defense had more current players finding their names in the stat sheet. Notable names like linebacker Jonathan Celestin and defensive tackle Steven Richardson have since graduated. Current Gophers' linebacker Thomas Barber led the team with 10 tackles and a half sack.
Quotables from the game:
“I’ve been through this before. I’ve been through year one before,” Fleck told reporters. “It’s not easy for anybody. But again, they’ll keep their oar in the water.”
“Forget the last interception part, to have five plays or whatever ... that went right down the field is unacceptable,” Fleck told reporters. “That 100 percent falls on me.”