Road loss effectively ends Gophers Rose Bowl hopes

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Call your relatives in Southern California and tell them you don’t need to crash on their couch New Year’s Day.
Cancel your trip to Disneyland, Hollywood or Venice Beach.
Don’t bother to go to AAA and have them map out a Triptix for your drive to Pasadena.
After Minnesota’s 51-43 loss to Indiana and Purdue’s overtime win over Wisconsin, hope about the Gophers earning a Rose Bowl berth is all but over.
The Gophers need this far-fetched scenario to take place in order for them to smell roses: Minnesota wins out (including a victory over Northwestern), Purdue loses twice, and Ohio State and Michigan each lose once.
Although the past cannot be changed, who would have thought Minnesota would have beaten Illinois, Penn State and Ohio State, while losing to Ohio and Indiana?
“I told you guys it was going to be a crazy season,” Gophers defensive end Karon Riley said. “It’s the Big Ten.”
The Gophers still need one more win to reach the magic number of six and become bowl eligible. It might not be easy.
This Saturday’s opponent is 23rd-ranked Northwestern. Then Minnesota travels to Wisconsin to face a struggling yet always tough Badgers team.
The season concludes with Iowa, a team seemingly fit to be the safety opponent for No. 6, if needed.
Wounded Willie
Preseason all-Big Ten cornerback Willie Middlebrooks broke his leg in the second quarter and will be lost for the regular season.
But Mason said Middlebrooks might return for a bowl game, “if we get to a bowl game.” Middlebrooks had just one interception on the season.
On Sunday, the only other injury reported by Mason was backup safety Eric Lee, who injured his knee in practice last week and didn’t play Saturday.
Running Redmon
For the fourth straight game, running back Tellis Redmon rushed for over 100 yards.
On Saturday, Redmon carried the ball 25 times for 103 yards. He also had five receptions for 51 yards and a touchdown.
With a 100-yard game next weekend against Northwestern, Redmon would tie Paul Giel’s school record for consecutive 100-yard rushing games, set in 1951.
Rumblin’ Riley
Not only did Karon Riley add a sack — putting him within .5 of breaking Lamanzer Williams school record of 23.5 — but he also had his first career interception in the third quarter.
“I was dropping into coverage,” Riley said of his pickoff in the end zone. “I deflected it and took it from them.”
Riley bravely returned the ball to Minnesota’s 12-yard-line.
Say hey Mays
Wide receiver Jermaine Mays had a big day on special teams for the Gophers. Along with the junior’s 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, he also recovered a blocked punt by Clorenzo Griffin in the second quarter.
On the touchdown, Mays tied the school record, held by Rick Upchurch (1974) and Bobby Weber (77) with the length-of-the-field return.
Extra points
ù Before a third quarter miss, kicker Dan Nystrom knocked home three field goals to tie a school record for attempts made in a season at 18. Paul Rogind set the record in 1977.
ù Of Minnesota quarterback Travis Cole’s career high 20 completions, one was to himself. Cole had a pass deflected back to him at the line, which he caught for a loss of six.
ù With Minnesota’s homecoming set for Saturday, the Gophers are 1-2 on their opponents’ homecomings this year. Minnesota lost to Purdue and Indiana but defeated Ohio State.
ù After breaking into the rankings a week ago, the Gophers fell back out of the polls this week. Minnesota has lost six games in a row following the team’s first appearance of the year in the top 25.

John R. Carter covers football and welcomes comments at [email protected]