Cupito, Payne connect in thrashing of Temple

Cupito and Payne played only in the first half, connecting six times for 136 yards and four touchdowns.

Tyler Rushmeyer

In front of a surprising crowd of more than 45,000 Saturday, seniors Bryan Cupito and Logan Payne helped lead many of them to a guilt-free early exit.

While Cupito moved up the record books, Payne entered them, helping lead Minnesota to a dominating 45-0 halftime advantage and a near heart attack for Goldy Gopher.

Cupito hooked up with Payne for four touchdowns in the first half, highlighted by a career-long 67-yard reception by the wide receiver in the second quarter.

Payne’s four receiving touchdowns were the most by a Gophers player since Omar Douglas collected five on Oct. 9, 1993, against Purdue.

Coach Glen Mason was not surprised by the senior wide receiver’s efforts.

“Logan’s a seasoned player, he’s a senior,” Mason said. “You’d expect him, when he has opportunities, to make the best of them.”

Cupito completed six of his eight passes to Payne, and finished eight for 10 for 148 yards.

His four passing touchdowns were a career best and he now sits fourth all-time in career passing yards and third in career passing touchdowns.

“I don’t really look at the records.

If we win, that’s all that matters,” Cupito said. “If I have a game like last week (against Cal), then it really doesn’t matter how many yards I pass for.”

Payne collected 136 of those passing yards in the first half to go along with his four touchdowns.

“Our identity is to run the ball, so teams tend to stack the box against us,” Payne said. “Plays are going to be there to be made. We just got to take what they give us.”

And Temple gave Minnesota plenty, with Cupito connecting on 80 percent of his passes.

Cupito said he expects the chemistry that he and Payne have developed to be a big factor for the Gophers for the remainder of the season.

“We’ve been doing that all off-season,” Cupito said. “He finally got a chance to make plays and he did it. I just get him the ball and he has that ability.”

Both players were quick to give the other credit when discussing the game, with Cupito budging in on Payne’s interview to remind him, “You are so good.”

Cupito and Payne both watched from the sidelines in the second half as the Minnesota backups added to the drubbing, helping the Gophers to a 62-0 victory, their biggest margin of victory in more than 45 years.

“In a game like this, you just have to be hard on yourself and take a critical look at the film,” Payne said. “In a lopsided contest, you tend to overlook the little mistakes and we can’t afford that with the Big Ten coming up.”

It now appears that Minnesota has found their number one receiver heading into next week’s contest against Purdue and that is a challenge that Payne said he is more than ready for.

“I’ve played that role my whole life,” Payne said. “When my number is called, I’ll make the plays.”