Here's a link to the final stats
. Really, this was a fairly straightforward beating, along the lines of what statistics and the point spread would have predicted. IU outgained Minnesota 463-392, although the Gophers outgained IU 154 to 34 in the fourth quarter. IU's only fourth quarter score came on a five yard drive after a Minnesota interception. The Hoosiers only two punts of the game came in the fourth quarter as well. Ultimately, as you will note from my third quarter post below, this game looked like more of a blowout statistically at the end of the third quarter. Ultimately, the defense played pretty well against a statistically productive offense, although Minnesota was adversely affected by some injuries at RB (although so was IU--Bryan Payton took advantage of his playing time in place of the injured Marcus Thigpen).
Kellen Lewis played well (66 percent completions, one TD, one bad interception, 235 yards. On the other side, I was fairly impressed with Adam Weber, Minnesota's freshman quarterback. Against a defense that leads the nation in sacks, he looked pretty poised and should be formidable in years to come. Bryan Payton was the offensive star, gaining 90 yards on 13 carries for three touchdowns. Trea Burgess, forced into action when Payton was briefly shaken up, managed 25 yards on five carries.
As an aside, I hope that my preview post on Minnesota, which took some shots at Gopher Nation's preview, was construed as "all in good fun." That's certainly how it was intended. I respect GN's work and can sympathize with searching for a light at the end of the tunnel during a lousy football season. Hopefully GN is in good health after the Chicago Marathon and will have a chance to discuss the game, despite the unpleasant outcome for Gopher fans.
This was a game that IU needed to win for bowl eligibility. Although I don't recommend this option, IU now need not win another Big Ten game to become bowl eligible (emphasis on bowl "eligible," because I have no confidence that a 6-6 (2-6) team that doesn't travel well will be invited anywhere if the Big Ten has more than seven teams eligible), given the remaining home game against Ball State. The next three weeks (@ Michigan State, Penn State, @ Wisconsin) will determine whether IU is going to stumble into bowl eligibility or whether we are going to make a run at a "special" season. IU is a seven point underdog at MSU and I expect larger point spreads in the two games after MSU, but all three of those teams have shown vulnerability at various points, and none of the games strikes me as unwinnable. After the next three game set, IU plays Ball State at home and then goes to Northwestern (that one looks tougher than it did a couple of weeks ago) before finishing at home against Purdue. Purdue looked vulnerable as well, but I'm simply not going to express any optimism about a game against Purdue until the Hoosiers actually break through.
I should note that I'm pleased, but pretty shocked, that IU is getting votes, and lots of them, in the media/coaches/Harris polls this week. IU has convincing wins against a bunch of bad teams and a home loss (by 13) to the only above average team on the schedule thus far. Certainly, winning the games that we should win is an important step for a program that lost to SIU and UConn last year, but I think the jury is still out on this Hoosier team.
So, up next: the always enigmatic Michigan State Spartans. More as the week progresses.