Gophers look to snap road losing skid at Purdue

Minnesota will be playing Purdue during its homecoming.

by Mark Remme

The road between Minneapolis and West Lafayette is a well-traveled one.

But no one on Minnesota’s current football roster or coaching staff can comment on the last time that path produced a victory.

The Gophers will walk into Ross-Ade Stadium to play Purdue on Saturday with a six-game road losing streak to the Boilermakers still intact.

Minnesota has only two wins in West Lafayette in the last 20 years. The Gophers last won at Purdue on Oct. 6, 1990 during John Gutekunst’s coaching tenure.

Coach Glen Mason said the recent misfortunes have come down to player match-ups, not because of stadium hostility.

“I minimize home-field advantage – problems playing on the road,” Mason said. “I like playing on the road.”

Mason said he didn’t have a good answer for why the Gophers have struggled at Purdue.

“We just haven’t done very well down there,” he said.

But this Big Ten streak is nothing new to Minnesota, although the Gophers have recently found ways to end them.

Minnesota defeated Michigan last year after losing 16 straight games in the

span of 19 years to the Wolverines.

Senior quarterback Bryan Cupito saw similarities between this streak and the one against the Wolverines.

“It’d been a long time since we beat Michigan, and we did,” Cupito said. “We’re a team that if we make a lot of mistakes, if I turn the ball over, we’re not going to win. If we’re home or away, it doesn’t matter.”

The Gophers snapped an overall losing streak to Purdue last year with a 42-35 double overtime victory at the Metrodome.

Cupito said the Boilermakers probably feel just as big of an incentive to win as Minnesota does because of that loss.

Minnesota overcame a 28-20 deficit late in the fourth quarter to force overtime and eventually defeat the 11th-ranked Boilermakers.

It began a six-game losing streak for Purdue and a season that ultimately ended with an 8th place finish in the Big Ten.

“They probably feel like they should’ve beaten us last year,” Cupito said. “So there is incentive either way.”

Home again

Adding to the focus of this game are Purdue’s Homecoming festivities.

The Gophers will find themselves battling to end the six game losing streak against Purdue as the Homecoming opponent, a position they found themselves in against Michigan a year ago.

Junior linebacker Mike Sherels said being a homecoming opponent is a position he likes to be in.

“Anytime the atmosphere will be raised – it’s the reason we come play Big Ten football,” Sherels said.

The contest will mark the seventh time Minnesota has played Purdue at its Homecoming. The Boilermakers are 5-1 in the previous six meetings.

Purdue has lost its last two Homecoming contests and has not lost three straight since dropping four in a row between 1983 and 1986.

Junior tackle Steve Shidell said all the distractions and hype surrounding the game shouldn’t change the way players prepare for the game.

“You have to go into that mentality when you go into an away stadium,” Shidell said. “Any Big Ten opponent you have to go in and play hard to win.”