Third time's the charm, right?
It seems that way for the Minnesota football team. The Gophers are on their third quarterback of the season, but their first that seems to be making major strides. And in a 44-28 win over Purdue it was freshman signal caller Philip Nelson who was making quite the impression at the position.
He led the Gophers to their first Big Ten victory this season with his impressive performance -- three touchdowns and no interceptions on an 15-of-22 passing day.
Nelson made the Boilermakers defense look mismatched in nearly every aspect of the game (though it didn't help the Boilermakers' case that Purdue senior defensive tackle Kawann Short exited the game during the first quarter due to injury). On the ground the Gophers picked up 214 yards and in the air Nelson picked apart the Boilermakers secondary through the first half. He didn't complete a pass in the second half as the Gophers' offense slowed and focused on the rush more.
And while it was the Boilermakers who struck first, they just never got it going until it was too late (scoring the game's final three touchdowns). Starting quarterback Caleb TerBush completed 5 of 18 passes and threw a touchdown and an interception before being pulled in the third quarter for sixth-year senior Robert Marve. But by the time Marve hit the field the Gophers were leading 44-7. Marve's play was much better by comparison, completing 11 of 19 passes for two touchdowns, but it wasn't nearly enough to overcome the Gophers' lead at that point.
With Minnesota's hefty scoring attack, it surpassed the total number of points the Gophers scored in their first three conference games (39). However, they fell short of the school's record for the most points scored in a game (63).
Purdue didn't appear to be in the same form as it was a week ago when it took Ohio State to overtime before falling, 29-22, and Minnesota looked more complete than it has all season.
Purdue drops to 0-4 in the Big Ten and hosts Penn State next weekend. Meanwhile, a somewhat revived Minnesota team moves to 1-3 in the conference and welcomes Michigan to the Twin Cities in a week.