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By the Numbers: A strong defensive performance by the Gophers the difference in 41-10 victory over Purdue

11/10/2018, 7:00pm CST
By Jared Hines

Gophers bounce back from last week's blowout loss to Illinois and are one win from being bowl eligible

After many people had given up on the 2018 Gophers, P.J. Fleck and Co. showed the haters why so many people still have faith in this squad. Coming off an embarrassing 55-31 loss to Illinois, Minnesota fired Defensive Coordinator Robb Smith and hired Joe Rossi as interim coordinator. In his first game calling plays, the Gophers held the Boilermakers to just 10 points. The win brought Minnesota back to .500 on the season with two games remaining. Minnesota will have to steal one from Northwestern or Wisconsin if they want to become bowl eligible in what has been a roller coaster season for the Gophers.

“I’m so proud of how this team has dealt with adversity throughout the season, especially this week,” P.J. Fleck said after the game. “I’ve never been around a team that has had more adversity thrown their way from the beginning of the year to the end of it, and these guys continue to fight through it.”

13: While the Gophers had 13 points at halftime, the team also accumulated 13 first downs in the first 30 minutes of play. On the other side of the ball, the impressive Gophers defense allowed just three points and three first downs to the Boilermakers in the first half. Gophers finished the game with 22 first downs.

2013: It had been over five years since a Minnesota defensive player had returned a fumble for a touchdown. On Saturday, Blake Cashman scooped up a Purdue fumble and returned it back for a score. The momentum was shifted after Cashman’s touchdown, giving the Gophers the advantage in a huge win.

9: Tackles for Blake Cashman to lead the team. Cashman also had half a sack, a pass breakup, a forced fumble and the touchdown described above.

“I knew it was coming, I sat and saw the quarterback had the ball hanging out and wanted to try and create a turnover and make a big play,” Cashman said. “I was able to do that, and had to take advantage. As a defensive player, you always dream about getting into the end zone so I had to get that done.”

155: Rushing yards for Mohamed Ibrahim in the victory. Ibrahim ran the ball 18 times and averaged 8.6 yards per carry behind the offensive line. Bryce Williams added 68 yards and a touchdown, averaging 7.6 yards per carry. 265 total rushing yards for Minnesota in the win.

139: Passing yards for Tanner Morgan on 10-18 passing. Seth Green added 11 yards and a passing touchdown to Jake Paulson in the win.

6: Minnesota was six-for-six from the red zone in the win, with five touchdowns and one field goal. The Gophers had the ball for 33:13 of the game, approximately six minutes more than the Boilermakers.

“It’s what we can do,” Tanner Morgan said, “Our playmakers were making plays, and the guys up front were dominating the line of scrimmage. It’s amazing to see guys making plays everywhere around the field. That’s what we are capable of doing.”

2: Games left for the 5-5 Gophers. Minnesota takes on Northwestern next Saturday at home before traveling to Madison in the regular season finale. The team hopes to win at least one of the games in order to play in a bowl game. While many fans consider the bowl game potentially meaningless, it allows the Gophers another month to practice. With a young team like this one, practice is important.

0: Third downs converted by Purdue in the loss. The Boilermakers were in 12 third-down situations and were stopped by the Gophers defense on every single one. The Gophers went four-for-ten on third down.

233: After allowing 646 yards of offense to Illinois last week, Minnesota held Purdue to just 233 yards (145 passing, 88 rushing) in the 41-10 victory. Purdue ran one more play than the Gophers did on Saturday (62-61) but Minnesota averaged 6.8 yards per play while Purdue averaged just 3.8 yards per play.

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