After losing their first four Big Ten games, the Hoosiers had the formidable task of slowing down Minnesota's vaunted ground game and trying to mount enough offense to keep it a game for 60 minutes. Not many thought they could do it.
But it was a strange Saturday in college football, and coach Gerry DiNardo was able to rouse an outstanding effort out of his team as the Hoosiers pulled off a memorable 30-21 upset.
Minnesota was averaging 278 rushing yards per game, the third-best running attack in the country. But instead of folding and letting Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber run wild, the Hoosiers hit back and exchanged punches with the 24th-rated Gophers.
After the first quarter, it looked like Minnesota would run away and hide after building a 14-0 lead. But Minnesota QB Bryan Cupito was struggling to get his passing attack going, and then he threw a pass directly to SS Will Lumpkin early in the second quarter.
Lumpkin gathered it in and ran 42 yards for a touchdown. It was Indiana's third defensive touchdown of the season.
That play sparked the Hoosiers to an outstanding offensive performance the rest of the quarter. Matt LoVecchio continues to demonstrate his improvement, as he threw TD passes to underrated WR Courtney Roby and TE Chris Rudanovic. Indiana took a 20-14 lead at halftime.
Not only was LoVecchio a major factor — 13-of-26 for 160 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions — but so was the long dormant Indiana running game. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who has not received the blocking that he did a year ago, broke free for 110 yards and a touchdown against Minnesota. His 27-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter appeared to take much of the life out of the Minnesota offense.
Indiana has often flashed solid play for a few series or a quarter. The Hoosiers were unable to play a complete game in conference play until the Gophers came to town.
"We went into this game knowing we had to limit what they did on the ground and not let them complete the long passes," DiNardo told the Indianapolis Star. "Instead of doing just that for a quarter, we played four solid quarters off football against a good team."
The crowd of 22,282 was the smallest for an Indiana football game in nearly 40 years. The last time the Hoosiers drew a crowd this small was when 20,708 attended the final game of the 1964 season.
The Hoosiers have a good chance for a two-game winning streak when they go to Illinois this Saturday.
GAME BALL GOES TO: RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis — He finally got the support from the offensive line that had been missing in previous games. Green-Ellis found his stride in the second half and ran for 110 yards on 22 carries. He was the most productive running back on the field ... and that's a major achievement when you're competing with Laurence Maroney and Marion Barber.
KEEP AN EYE ON: SS Will Lumpkin — He lit the fuse in the second quarter when he picked off a poor pass from QB Bryan Cupito and returned it 42 yards for a touchdown. Not only did that cut Minnesota's lead to 14-7, it sent a surge of confidence through Lumpkin's teammates.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was like slow motion. I stood there, saw the ball coming and it hit me in the hands. I just caught it and ran it in for a touchdown." — Will Lumpkin on his second-quarter interception return for a touchdown against Minnesota.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
LOOKING GOOD: QB Matt LoVecchio has shown improvement throughout the season. He threw two more TD passes against Minnesota and did not throw an interception. BenJarvus Green-Ellis added 110 rushing yards and the Hoosier offensive line did a better job of run blocking. Head coach Gerry DiNardo wants to see that balance continue this week at Illinois.
STILL NEEDS SOME WORK: The Hoosier secondary has been quite active this year, but that unit is not getting much support from the defensive line. Indiana could not come up with a sack against Minnesota. A better quarterback might have been able to exploit the defense, but Minnesota QB Bryan Cupito struggled throughout the game.
ROSTER REPORT: The Hoosiers appeared to come out of the 30-21 win over Minnesota without any key injuries
Indiana Controlled Tempo
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