McGhee gives Minnesota life to start the half
Purdue's starting to drive on the Gophers defense to and safety Daletavius McGhee is able to really make a heck of play to turn this into a turnover for Minnesota. You see him going for the strip to start, but then as he's wrapping around the defender, his left hand takes a hold of the ball and he's about to roll, he strips it and comes up with the interception. Refs had to review it to get it right, but a great play from McGhee to give momentum early in the second half.
Smith follows his blockers to the promise land
Rodney Smith's got to give some love to the Big Boys up front on this run. Jared Weyler and Tyler Moore work a double team that Weyler goes off on, and Vincent Calhoun and Jonah Pirsig on the right side of the line, discard a defensive lineman and then work to the linebacker, where Smith runs right behind them into the end zone. Also want to show some love to Colton Beebe for moving the defensive end out of the way.
Smith presses the line to setup Weyler's block, and then sees Pirsig and Calhoun moving mass and decides to help them out by plowing into the back of them for the touchdown.
Minnesota takes the lead back 30-28.
Gophers defense stands tall
Not sure if this is poor play design / execution by Purdue, or just great play recognition from Jack Lynn and Daletavius McGhee, but likely a combination of the two. It's third and short near mid-field and the Boilermakers go with the Wildcat, but the pulling guard can't get to Jack Lynn quick enough and he's able to get the ball carrier low, but McGhee beats a tackle and finishes him high. Minnesota forces a punt.
Smith doing a little bit of everything
Rodney Smith is so damn talented folks, and he's getting better each week.
Minnesota goes zone and his offensive line and receivers give him some room to work with. Jonah Pirsig takes his man up field, and Vincent Calhoun is able to turn his guy inside to open a lane for Smith. Drew Wolitarsky takes out the linebacker on the crack block inside and Rashad Still gets in the way just enough for Smith to do his thing.
Check out the little inside - outside move that Smith puts on the safety and then he turns on the jets to get around him for the missed tackle. He reads Still's block on the outside and cuts it back inside where two Purdue defenders fall into each other. Smith finishes off the 26 yard gain by falling forward. He's getting better each week folks, and make sure to appreciate Smith while you still can.
Third quarter score: Minnesota 30, Purdue 28
Richardson comes to life in the fourth
Steven Richardson was finally able to get loose in the fourth quarter as this was his second straight play with a sack, and he forces the fumble here.
Richardson bullrushes the guard up the field and then spins back into the middle where David Blough is trying to step away from the contact, and Brett Favre-esque flip it to the check down, but Richardson gets his meaty left paw on the ball forcing it out and Julian Huff is there for the recovery.
Richardson now has nine tackles for loss and five sacks on the season, which lead the team.
Leidner to Wolitarsky on the crosser
Mitch Leidner and Drew Wolitarsky were finally able to connect on Saturday for the big gain on a crossing route. Leidner shifts his weight forward and delivers the ball on time and accurately to Wolitarsky between the linebacker and safety, for the 24 yard gain putting Minnesota in the red zone.
Leidner wins the race to the pylon
Same thing Purdue had been doing all day in the read option as the defensive end crashes down on Rodney, which gives Leidner room to the outside.
Nate Wozniak comes across the formation and is able to turn the outside backer in, which leaves Leidner one on one with the safety, and check out the little stutter step move he puts on the safety, which slows him down for just a moment and that lets Leidner get back up to full speed and able to beat the safety, and gets in for the score. Give Eric Carter and Drew Wolitarsky some credit for holding their blocks in the end zone as well.
Cashman doesn't give up and it pays off
This sack by Blake Cashman puts Purdue in a third and long situation, and gives Cashman his second sack and third tackle for loss of the day. Nothing special here other than a ton of effort and awareness of where Blough is in the pocket, and he comes back to get the sack. Julian Huff comes on a stunt inside that makes Blough step right into Cashman.
Rallis makes the heady play
Purdue decides to go for it on 4th and inches near the 35 as they're running out of time, and Nick Rallis is not having any of it. Rallis somehow gets through the abyss of mass in the middle of the field and hits the ball carrier with Carter Coughlin who is crashing down the line of scrimmage, and the ball pops free.
Antoine Winfield just wins the race to the ball against David Blough and dives on it giving Minnesota great field position once again.
Smith makes it a trifecta on the day
Minnesota could conceivably run out the clock at this point with Purdue having no timeouts left, but they decide to keep running and Rodney Smith keeps playing, taking this carry of the left side for his third score of the night.
Nothing special here except zone blocking from this offensive line and the Rashad Still motion moves the corner way back, giving Smith one man to beat, and then he turns on the jets for his third score.
I'm thinking Purdue will watch this tape back and realize that Rodney Smith is a lot faster than he appears.
Rallis gets called for targeting
Nick Rallis becomes the sixth Gopher this season to be ejected for targeting on this play.
He leads with his shoulder, does not get helmet to helmet contact and does not leave his feet to make the play, but he's still flagged on the play, and the referees "confirm" the call on the field.
The fact is that this NCAA rule needs a revision, and referees across the nation need to find some sort of consistency on this call.
This play was not called targeting and it was reviewed and confirmed as not targeting, yet Rallis is called for this.
It's hog wash and it needs work from the NCAA and Big Ten "officials".