Led by the defense on Homecoming Saturday, the Gophers improved to 5-0 this afternoon in the team’s 40-17 win over Illinois. With the rain and mist coming down at the beginning of the game, Minnesota relied on Rodney Smith and the running game and never looked back. Smith and Brooks combined for 332 rushing yards, one year after Illinois tallied 430 rushing yards over the Minnesota defense. Head P.J. Fleck and Co. now look ahead to next week where Nebraska comes to town for a game at TCF Bank Stadium under the lights. The game is set to kickoff at 6:30 p.m. Here are a couple of key stats from today’s victory!
146: Rushing yards for Rodney Smith in the first half. That tally is the most by any Gophers player in the first half since David Cobb on Sep. 20, 2014, vs. San Jose State (148). Smith carried the ball 24 times in the win for 211 yards. It is the most rushing yards for a Gophers running back in a Big Ten game since Laurence Maroney in 2005 vs. Wisconsin.
3: Points gave up by the Gophers defense in the win. While Illinois scored two defensive touchdowns, Minnesota’s defense didn’t allow much for the Fighting Illini all afternoon. As a whole, the Gophers had three sacks, five tackles for loss, five pass breakups, two forced fumbles, and one interception. Three is also the number of touchdowns that Tanner Morgan threw in the victory. Morgan tallied 155-yards and came back from a bad interception early on. His three touchdown passes were caught by Tyler Johnson, Brevyn Spann-Ford and Chris Autman-Bell.
14: Different Gophers defenders who recorded two or more tackles for the defense. The team was led by Kamal Martin who ended with seven total tackles.
8.8: Yards per carry by Smith on Saturday. As a whole, the Gophers gained an average of 6.4 yards every time someone carried the ball. 487 total yards for the Gophers in the win (332 run, 155 pass).
6: Six scores in six opportunities for the Gophers in the red zone. Along with the five touchdowns, kicker Michael Lantz was two-for-two on field goals, making them from 28 and 27 yards.
35:44: Time of possession for Minnesota. The Gophers dominated the time of possession battle, allowing Illinois to only have the ball for 24:16 in the game. The Gophers ran 69 plays on offense while the Fighting Illini ran 66.
39,341: Attendance for Homecoming 2019. The weather kept come fans away but a loud and excited crowd filled the seats at TCF Bank to cheer the Gophers onto another win.
15: First downs picked up on the ground for Smith and Co. In total, the Gophers had 24 first downs while Illinois only tallied 14 on the afternoon.
5: Wins for the Gophers in 2019, one game short of bowl eligibility. The remaining schedule includes Nebraska (H), Rutgers (A), Maryland (H), Penn State (H), Iowa (A), Northwestern (A) and Wisconsin (H).
6:30: A special evening start for the Gophers next Saturday as the Cornhuskers come to town. The game under the lights looks to draw a huge crowd on what should be a fun and exciting game between two Big Ten teams. The Gophers will look to improve to 6-0 and should be ranked in the top-25 if the team can pull off the victory over Nebraska on Oct. 12!