Gophers knock out Hoosiers with 1st-half flurry, win 35-14
Ky Thomas ran for 105 yards and a career-high two scores, Tanner Morgan threw two touchdown passes and Minnesota scored 14 points the final 46 seconds of the first half Saturday to pull away from Indiana 35-14.
Minnesota (7-4, 5-3 Big Ten) ended a two-game losing streak.
The Hoosiers (2-9, 0-7) have lost seven straight.
Indiana started fast, capping an impressive opening drive with quarterback Donaven McCulley scooping up a fumbled snap and scoring from 11 yards out.
Thomas’ 2-yard TD run tied the score midway through the second quarter and his 1-yard run with 46 seconds left in the half gave Minnesota a 14-7 lead.
The Gophers took control after Tyler Nubin picked off McCulley, a true freshman, and returned it to the Hoosiers 31-yard line. Three plays later, Tanner Morgan found Chris Autman-Bell for a 14-yard TD pass with 9 seconds left.
Indiana never recovered and Morgan closed it out with a 9-yard TD pass to Autman-Bell in the third quarter.
Minnesota: The Golden Gophers needed something to go right and a trip to Indiana did the trick. Minnesota played more like the team that won four straight in October than the one that struggled to score against Illinois and then No. 19 Iowa. Next week’s game will dictate the Gophers’ postseason fate.
Indiana: The Hoosiers added another dubious chapter to an already lost season by going winless at home in conference play for the first time since 2015 and just the third time since 2011. One goal still remains: Keeping the Old Oaken Bucket with a win next weekend.
Minnesota left guard Conner Olson became the Big Ten’s career leader in games started Saturday. Olson broke a tie with former Ohio State center Billy Price by making his 56th consecutive start — every game since coach P.J. Fleck arrived in 2017. Olson took advantage of the extra year of eligibility the NCAA granted from last year’s COVID-19 shortened season. Olson hopes to attend medical school after his football career ends.
Minnesota: Thomas has four 100-yard games this season — all since Oct. 23. … Tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford caught three passes for a career-best 67 yards. He nearly surpassed his previous career high (49 yards) on a 48-yard completion in the first half. … Autman-Bell had four catches for 44 yards. … Morgan threw more TD passes Saturday than he had in his previous four games (one).
Indiana: The Hoosiers managed just 218 total yards and have now scored nine TDs in conference play. They’ve produced more than one touchdown in just twice against Big Ten foes this season. .. McCulley was three of seven with 17 yards and two interceptions and rushed 16 times for 72 yards. … Safety Devon Matthews did not return after injuring his left shoulder in the first half.
Minnesota: Faces No. 15 Wisconsin for Paul Bunyan’s Axe next Saturday.
Indiana: Will renew its rivalry at Purdue next Saturday after the series was canceled twice last season.