Gophers bulldoze Florida Atlantic

David McCoy

The line on Minnesota’s football team’s game against Florida Atlantic Saturday night at the Metrodome favored Minnesota by 31.5 points.

With 4:10 left in the second quarter, the Gophers were already there.

Minnesota scored on its first eight possessions of the game, opening up a 40-0 halftime lead and beating the Owls 46-7 in its final nonconference game of the season.

But more importantly, the Gophers are on an upswing going into their first Big Ten game of the season Saturday against Purdue.

“I saw a lot of areas of improvement,” Minnesota football coach Glen Mason said. “Our execution in our offense was the best we have done this season. This was one of the areas that we focused on this week and I feel a lot better about that going into next week’s game.”

The offense looked sharp from the start, needing just four plays to score the first touchdown of the game on a 38- yard run by Laurence Maroney.

It was a sign of more to come. Maroney finished the game with 145 yards rushing and two touchdowns and the Gophers rushed for 349 total yards – their third straight game over 300.

Maroney even got involved in the passing game, with 55 of his 200 all-purpose yards coming on a career-high three catches, one of which went for a 37-yard touchdown – the first of his career, which gave Minnesota a 13-0 lead.

“That’s a sign that we’re better,” Maroney said. “That’s what that means, that we’re using all our talents. Keep the defense off guard, we don’t have to go deep every time, we can throw a little swing pass.”

The Gophers’ passing game looked the best it has so far this season. Quarterback Bryan Cupito completed his first five passes and finished the day 10-of-17 for 230 yards and two touchdowns.

Junior Logan Payne made his second career start at wide receiver and caught four passes for 78 yards. Jared Ellerson caught two passes for 88 yards, one of which was a 56-yard touchdown. That catch gave the Gophers a 33-0 lead with 4:10 left in the half.

Most of the announced 40,709 who saw Minnesota take a 40-0 halftime lead left at the break. They didn’t miss much, as Cupito and Maroney both sat the entire second half.

Even fewer were still around when backup running back Gary Russell gave Minnesota a 46-0 lead less than five minutes into the third quarter with a 30-yard touchdown run.

Florida Atlantic ruined Minnesota’s shutout on a 1-yard touchdown leap by Di Ivory Edgecomb with 1:24 left in the third.

The Gophers were much more celebratory than last week after a sloppy 56-24 win over Colorado State. But they know that celebration can only be tempered and temporary.

“We were definitely better this week,” Cupito said. “Coming into next week, Purdue is going to be a tough game. The regular season starts next week. The preseason is over. It’s what we’ve been preparing for all year.