We had noted this week that sure, on paper, Minnesota’s defensive stats looked to be quite solid. We also noted that that’s because they have been hashtag blessed with having some of the worst offenses in college football on the first three quarters of their schedule.
At the time of kickoff, one third of the Gophers’ 2023 opponents were ranked below their own 117th ranking in total offense. There are only 130 teams in FBS.
Now, to tell a tale of two halves:
The first half was very back and forth, and given that I was expecting a game where the winner would score in the mid 20’s, for a solid two hours I was thinking “okay, yeah, this could actually be a barn burner! That’d be fun!”
It turned out to be for one team. The good one!
The first quarter: very back and forth. Minny opens with a quick TD. We answer with a quick TD. Slower Minnesota drive, stop, just a Gophers field goal. Then, another quick Purdue answer.
Minnesota was handily winning the time-of-possession battle throughout the first quarter (and eventually the entire first half), but Purdue’s quick strikes gave the Boilers a 14-10 lead that they would never relinquish.
Going into the second quarter, the Golden Gophers drove again. They settle with a field goal it’s looking like this game was going to be a parking lot fist fight at 14-13 in the opening minutes of the second. A couple of long drives that end with goal-to-go touchdown runs. It’s 28-13, can we boat race them?
Then the Gophers have a solid long drive to make things 28-20, I’m personally trying not to panic but I’m also internally realizing we might be the most complicated and multifaceted offense that P.J. Fleck’s team has seen that isn’t Michigan...which is weird to think, but at least close to the truth.
Then Purdue’s offense confirmed that the first half was not just lightning in a bottle. What impressed me so much was the length of these drives (both short and electrifying balanced with long and methodical), the ball being spread around, the slant routes to Burks setting up quick outside runs to Mockobee, the Garrett Miller toughness, Tracy finding his gaps that the interior OL is crafting as a unit. I had said previously this week that it’s quite possible to beat Minnesota’s secondary over the top with a speedster and Tyrone Tracy, the converted WR, got loose for a deep bomb on a 75-yard drive in which he accounted for all yards.
So early in the second half, things are clicking everywhere. Card looks mobile, Crazy Legs and Tracy are both averaging north of 7.5 yards per carry (at one point Mockobee was at 13 YPC and was compared to Miami Dolphins 17-0 club member Benny Malone).
Edge rushing protection? Gorgeous. Interior run? Established. Speedy receivers both getting lost in coverage and making possession receptions over the middle? Magnificent.
The score of 28-20 became 42-20. It was on ice. It was beautiful. It was everything I thought Purdue’s offense could eventually become this year. The final score of 49-30 doesn’t even show how well the defense played either. Sorry if I’m focusing too much on one side of the ball, I’m just proud of my large adult sons on offense.
Purdue put up 600+ yards of total offense for the first time since last season with a little (LOT) of help from the whole gang.
Hudson Card threw for three scores and rushed for one. No interceptions. Mockobee with 132 yards and a score on TWELVE CARRIES. Tracy with a score through the air and a rushing touchdown. Five other receivers with catches. The offense came to play today.