Minnesota trounces Indiana

Tyler Rushmeyer

Minnesota abruptly reminded Indiana that it’s still a basketball state, putting up historic numbers during its 63-26 drubbing of the Hoosiers on Saturday.

In a game that saw over 10 football fields worth of total yardage, the Gophers pulled a 180 degree turn from their past two Big Ten matchups, coming out on top in a blowout contest.

The lopsided victory was accompanied by an offense that put up the most points in a Big Ten contest in 90 years for Minnesota (4-6 overall, 1-5 Big Ten).

Led by the re-emergence of senior quarterback Bryan Cupito and senior wide receiver Logan Payne, along with an Ernest Wheelwright sighting, the Gophers racked up a season-high 541 yards of total offense.

The offensive outburst was something that caught even coach Glen Mason off guard.

“You probably would say you didn’t see that coming,” he said. “I didn’t see it coming, either. Not like that.”

Indiana (5-5, 3-3) came into the Metrodome fresh off its third Big Ten victory and within one game of bowl eligibility. Momentum would figure to be on the Hoosiers’ side, but Minnesota quickly reversed it, putting up 21 first-quarter points and placing Indiana in a hole it spent the rest of the afternoon trying to dig itself out of.

Cupito credited the offensive performance to the 11-man unit finally coming together and playing mistake-free football.

“We had great play calling, receivers got open and the offensive line protected well,” he said. “It was just one of those days where everything went well for us.”

Cupito continued his mastery of the Indiana defense throughout the first half, heading to the locker room with 304 passing yards and three touchdowns. His favorite target in the half, fellow senior Payne, hauled in five catches for 128 yards.

With a 35-7 halftime lead, Minnesota relied on the running game in the second half, preventing Cupito, who attempted just seven second-half passes, from having a career day.

Senior tight end Matt Spaeth, coming back from a shoulder injury on Saturday after sitting out the Ohio State game from the injury, said Cupito was at his finest.

“He looked good today. Tough to say if it was his best (game),” he said. “But it was definitely one of his best.”

Minnesota’s defense relaxed a bit in the second half, allowing Indiana to get within three touchdowns, but the offense responded each time to maintain the large advantage.

Junior center Tony Brinkhaus said the Gophers had a different attitude on Saturday, spurred by the early 21-0 advantage.

“I think it was obvious from the first quarter on that we were having a good time out there,” he said. “And it’s been awhile.”

UP NEXT

Michigan State
WHEN: 11 a.m. Saturday
WHERE: East Lansing, Mich.
TV: ESPNU

The Gophers now sit at 1-5 in the conference, but still have a bowl invitation with their name on it if they can win their final two contests.

Brinkhaus said Minnesota needs to ride the momentum to a bowl game to send the seniors out on a high note.

“We all want to play another game,” he said. “We don’t want to send the seniors out with a sour taste in their mouths.”

Junior linebacker John Shevlin said the win is one step closer to accomplishing the goal of playing a bowl game.

“Today’s win gives us something to buy into. We got a two-game season now,” he said. “Just got to make it a November to remember.”