Friday, October 6, 2017

Gophers and Boilermakers look for their first win in conference play on Saturday

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

P.J. Fleck and the Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-1, 0-1 Big Ten) look to row their boat into Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) when they take on Jeff Brohm and the Purdue Boilermakers (2-2, 0-1 Big Ten), while this serves as the first Big Ten West division game of the season for both teams.

Brohm is not overlooking the Golden Gophers and towards the rest of the Big Ten schedule for the Boilermakers.

“Coming into this last game, they [Minnesota] were undefeated and not giving up very many points at all. Unfortunately, they turned the ball over a few times and got beat,” Brohm said.  “So it will be a tough football game; a team that is well coach, very fundamentally sound.  Had a great year last year going 9-4 and winning their bowl game against Washington State.  So the guys know how to win.”

The Boilermakers are coming off a game where they put the nation on upset alert when they took on the No. 8 Michigan Wolverines. Purdue managed to take a lead into halftime before Michigan played to their potential.

Brohm has not committed to whether Elijah Sindelar or David Blough would be the starting quarterback for the Boilermakers against the Gophers.

“So I like David [Blough]. I think if he’s healthy, and he gives us a good decision-maker to this point who can do some different things with the ball in his hand, whether it’s by pass or by run,” Brohm said. “And then Elijah [Sindelar] is kind of a stronger-arm guy who can stand in there and throw it up the field and he’ll sit in the pocket a little bit more.”

The Golden Gophers fell at home on Saturday to the Maryland Terrapins, 31-24 as they allowed a 32-yard touchdown run with just over 70 seconds remaining in the game to put the Terrapins on top.  With under a minute remaining, Minnesota quarterback Conor Rhoda’s pass was intercepted and the Gophers attempt at a last-second comeback was squandered.

Rhoda is the main stay in the Gophers offense this season.  On the season, Rhoda is 43-of-72 with three touchdown passes and is averaging 171.2 yards per game.

The Gophers may be without their best player on defense— Antoine Winfield Jr. 

“I’m leaning towards no. I have not made that decision yet though,” Fleck said. “But again, it is your best player on defense. The game plan’s designed around your best player on defense.”

The Gophers are one of the youngest teams in the country as 50 of their 111 players (45 percent) are either freshmen or redshirt freshmen. 

Purdue is one of 12 teams in the FBS that is perfect in the red zone this season.  So far, the Boilermakers are a perfect 15-for-15.  The Boilermakers have also forced 10 turnovers in four games this season, which is an upgrade from last season where they went 10 games before hitting the double-digit mark.

During the bye week for the Boilermakers, the winningest coach in Purdue history passed away.  Joe Tiller was Purdue’s head coach from 1997-2008 and led the Boilermakers to a record of 87-62, including 10 bowl berths. On Saturday, Purdue will wear helmets that will replicate the ones during the Joe Tiller era to Purdue.  Purdue also announced that they will be adding a special helmet sticker to commemorate the legacy of Tiller.

Fleck also announced that the Golden Gophers will wear a logo on their helmets to honor Tiller and the Boilermakers football program.

All-Time Series:

Minnesota leads the all-time series 37-32-3, including each of the past four matchups and has not fared well in West Lafayette going 6-20.