Hoosiers Crushed By Gophers, 63-26

The IU football program's journey to the postseason doesn't go through Minneapolis. With the Hoosiers' bowl eligibility on the line, Gopher quarterback Bryan Cupito threw for 304 of his 376 yards in the first half alone to put Indiana in a 35-7 hole, and Minnesota cruised to a 63-26 victory at the Metrodome.

The IU football program's journey to the postseason doesn't go through Minneapolis.

With the Hoosiers' bowl eligibility on the line, Gopher quarterback Bryan Cupito threw for 304 of his 376 yards in the first half alone to put Indiana in a 35-7 hole, and Minnesota cruised to a 63-26 victory at the Metrodome.

The loss dropped Indiana to 5-5 overall and 3-3 in the Big Ten, while Minnesota picked up its first Big Ten win against five defeats and improved to 4-6 overall. The Hoosiers now must win either next weekend at home against No. 2 Michigan or the following weekend at Purdue to get the required six wins to earn a postseason bowl berth.

"I thought we were ready to play, but obviously I was wrong," said IU Coach Terry Hoeppner. "I'm embarrassed for this team. My job is to get them ready to play and obviously I didn't do that."

The Hoosiers had hoped to wrap up its bowl trip with its first win in Minneapolis since 1993, but a woeful effort on defense in the first half – coupled with a pair of Kellen Lewis interceptions in the second quarter – put Hoeppner's team in too deep of a hole.

Known for their ability to run the ball in recent years, Minnesota's gameplan featured plenty of deep throws downfield against IU's secondary, and it worked to perfection. Cupito hooked up with wideout Payne Logan for a 58-yard play on Minnesota's first play from scrimmage, setting up an 18-yard touchdown strike to Eric Decker three plays later for the game's first score.

That was just the start for a Minnesota offense that had scored only 22 combined points in its last three games. Against Indiana, though, Minnesota put 21 on the board in the first quarter. Cupito completed 9-of-12 throws for 179 yards and two scores in the first quarter, with 113 of those yards going to Logan.

The Gophers weren't done, though, as they capitalized on two Kellen Lewis interceptions to put two more touchdowns on the board in the first 5 ½ minutes of the second quarter to open a 35-0 lead.

Minnesota eventually piled up 541 yards in only 58 plays, or nearly 10 yards/play against an IU defense that went nearly three quarters without surrendering a first down in last week's 46-21 win over Michigan State. Cupito was 22-of-33 for 378 yards and four scores, while Gopher tailbacks Amir Pinnix and Jay Thomas combined for 147 yards on just 19 carries, including two touchdowns.

"Defensively, we took a huge step back," Hoeppner said. "We just were not aware on defense."

While the IU defense was picked apart by Cupito, the Hoosier offense couldn't keep pace. IU went three-and-out on its first two possessions, and Lewis' two interceptions helped Minnesota open its five-touchdown cushion. Lewis had 155 yards passing and 54 yards rushing in the first half alone, but the miscues prevented the Hoosiers from answering the Gophers scoring outburst.

Indiana had to come-from-behind to get wins against Illinois, Iowa and Michigan State in recent weeks, and Hoeppner's squad did look to battle back. A Lewis-to-Demetrius McCray 43-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter put the Hoosiers on the board, and Lewis hooked up with James Hardy for a 48-yard scoring play on the Hoosiers' first possession of the second half to cut the lead to 35-13.

But another breakdown in the IU secondary enabled Cupito to find Ernie Wheelwright for a 37-yard scoring play to push the lead back to 42-13, and the Hoosiers wouldn't threaten again.

"We needed to seize the momentum in the second half and just dominate, and we didn't do that," Hoeppner said.

Lewis did eventually complete 25-of-43 passes for a career-high 321 yards and three scores, and he added a team-best 75 yards rushing on 13 carries. Two of Lewis' touchdown throws went to Demetrius McCray, who added a touchdown run as well.

"They beat us in every tangible and intangible way," Hoeppner said. "They got that early spark and we could never take it away from them."

STATISTICS

Rushing-Minnesota: Thomas 6-79, Pinnix 13-68, Valentine 3-10, Jones 2-9, Payne 1-(-3). Indiana – Lewis 12-75, McCray 15-39, Thigpen 3-19, Carrington 3-15, Payton 2-13, Sears 2-4.

Passing- Minnesota: Cupito 33-22-0 378. Indiana: Lewis 43-25-2 321, Powers 4-2-1 14.

Receiving- Minnesota: Payne 6-137, Wheelwright 3-116, Decker 5-65, Spaeth 3-30, Chambers 3-23, Simmons 1-6, Pinnix 1-1. Indiana: Hardy 5-115, Bailey 7-61, McCray 3-53, Gilmore 4-46, Polk 3-39, Fisher 2-11, Sears 2-6, Means 1-4.

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