Minnesota Golden Gophers at Purdue Boilermakers Game Preview

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It is fitting that Saturday’s Big Ten West battle between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and Purdue Boilermakers is a pick’em. That’s because neither team has done much this season to convince outside observers they should feel confident that victory is imminent.

The Gophers are undefeated, but all three wins came in very unconvincing fashion and the last two involved last minute escapes. As for Purdue, well if you’re familiar with the collective psyche of much of their fan base, well then you can understand how they saw their 1-2 start coming.

Let’s preview.

purdue boilermakers

Minnesota Golden Gophers at Purdue Boilermakers FYIs

Kickoff: 2:42 pm Sat Sept 28, Ross-Ade Stadium, West Lafayette, Indiana

TV: ESPN2

Spread, total: pick’em, 56

Minnesota Golden Gophers (3-0) Preview

Although much of it evokes the timeless slogan of the 1983 AL West Champion Chicago White Sox, “Winning Ugly,” Minnesota is 7-2 in its last nine, and have won five consecutive (at Wisconsin, vs. Georgia Tech, South Dakota State, at Fresno State and Georgia Southern).

In the words of the immortal Lou Brown “that’s what we call a winning streak, this has happened before.”

This is the first time since 2003 that Minnesota has won three straight games away from Minneapolis, and that’s a very good omen, given how that season turned out.

Back then, in the pre-social media era (what halcyon days those were), the Golden Gophers won four straight on the road (Ohio, Penn State, Northwestern and Illinois) and finished 10-3 on the season.

The Golden Gophers get a massive fitness boost for this game as Shannon Brooks has been medically cleared to play for the first time in 2019. Coming off back-to-back serious knee injuries, it will be interesting to see how much he is his old self in this one.

Purdue is certainly hoping that he will not be- given how he’s run for 292 yards, on an 8.3 yards per carry average, in his two previous games against them.

Brooks is coming off an ACL tear in the spring of 2018, before tearing the ACL in his other knee during the final game last season.

pj fleck

It’s a good thing for the Gophers that they have depth at the running back position, because injuries have abounded. Mohamed Ibrahim missed the win over Georgia Southern due to a leg injury, Rodney Smith has an injured oblique and Cam Wiley suffered a concussion.

Purdue Boilermakers (1-2) Preview

Both teams are coming off a bye meaning that neither side has an advantage in the rest and relaxation department, but the winner here can definitely make a statement. We know Wisconsin is the best team in the west so far, and that Iowa is second, but who’s third? Is it Nebraska? What about the winner of this match-up?

We know it is definitely not one of the other two division teams we haven’t mentioned yet. Minnesota leads the all time series 38-33-3 (as Blind Melon taught us “three is a magic number), but you can expect the spread in the overall series to tighten even more should Purdue establish any sort of running game here. 

purdue basketball matt painter

Maybe moving playmaker Jackson Anthrop over from receiver to running back could help? But how much could it really matter, if the Boilers OL doesn’t step up and improve their run blocking?

“I’m not going to put it all on our running backs,” Purdue Coach Jeff Brohm said at his weekly news conference yesterday.

“I think we’ve had some problems up front of creating holes and knocking people back and being physical at the line of scrimmage. The running backs need to run better, yes, but sometimes there’s not some big holes to run in. But I do think Jackson is a guy we want to get more touches.”

“he’s a guy we want to get in the mix, so you’ll see him playing both running back and the receiver position.”

And what about the quarterback position? Will Elijah Sindelar be ready in time for this one?

How is he doing in the concussion protocol?

elijah sindelar

“I think he’s making progress,” Brohm continued.

“We’ll see how this week goes. Really last week we thought he was making progress Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. It wasn’t until Thursday where some things popped up again, and that’s where we had to start the process over.”

Minnesota Golden Gophers 28, Purdue Boilermakers 21

Gophers prevail, making it the first time since 2009 (at Syracuse, at Northwestern) that Minnesota has won its first two road games to start a season. The row boat bests the iron horse in West Lafayette.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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