Prior to kickoff, the hot question circulating around the stadium was whether Minnesota Gopher Coach Tim Brewster was going to be fired after the game if the Gophers lost to the Boilermakers.
A University of Minnesota spokesperson said the school had no comment on the rumor prior to the game and that Athletic Director Joel Maturi would not be available to the media.
Coach Tim Brewster had to feel optimistic about his team’s chances of beating Purdue coming into the game, as the Boilermakers had lost their most prolific wide receiver, running back and starting quarterback to injury.
Purdue’s freshman quarterback Rob Henry was making only the third start of his college career, and in his first Big Ten start against Northwestern last week he looked the part of an inexperienced quarterback, completing only six passes for 47 yards.
Against Northwestern, however, Henry did demonstrate that he could run the ball, and for that matter, so could the Boilermakers. Purdue was riding a four game streak of 200 or more yards rushing, and its game plan against the Gophers was evident: It was going to run the ball and throw just enough to keep the Gophers honest.
Minnesota's quarterback Adam Weber represented a stark contrast to Henry in that the fourth year senior has the longest tenure of any starting quarterback in the nation, dating back to 2007.
Minnesota hoped to capitalize on Weber’s experience to get out to a quick lead and keep Purdue’s defense, led by All-American candidate Ryan Kerrigan, off balance.
Purdue’s offense was not explosive in the first half, but it made no mistakes and managed to score two touchdowns before the half.
Minnesota’s offense in the first half, on the other hand, was woefully inept.
In the first quarter, the Gophers ran 18 plays and gained only 45 yards. In the second quarter, Minnesota was actually worse, as it ran 18 plays but gained only 14 yards.
The Gophers offense ran 36 plays in the first half, yet had only managed to accumulate 59 yards worth of offense. It is very difficult to imagine a more anemic showing on offense under Brewster’s tenure.
Yes, one play in the second quarter was a 21-yard loss on a snap that went over the head of Minnesota's punter on fourth down, but even excluding that play Minnesota’s offense in the first half was pathetic.
At halftime with the score 14-0 and momentum clearly on the side of Purdue, it was evident that the first possession of the second half would establish whether Minnesota was going to have an opportunity to get back into the game or whether it would be heading back to the Twin Cities with a loss.
Purdue opened the second half with a 17-yard run by Dan Dierking on a simple play. Things did not look good for the Gophers.
On the next play, Minnesota appeared to get the break it needed to turn the game, and possibly their season, around.
Minnesota’s linebacker Gary Tinsley stepped in front of a Henry pass at midfield, caught it and began running to the end zone for an apparent touchdown.
The big play that Minnesota desperately needed, however, would escape them once again.
Tinsley saw Henry coming, and in an attempt to extend the ball to try to score before contact, he lost control of the ball just before Henry delivered a solid hit.
The ball hit the pylon on the goal line signaling that the ball went out of bounds through the end zone for a touchback. Purdue was awarded the ball on its 20-yard line.
Purdue, thankful for its second chance, made the most of the opportunity, proceeding to put together a 13-play, 80-yard drive for a touchdown to extend its lead to 21 points.
Minnesota never seriously threatened Purdue again in the ballgame.
Dan Dierking, who was second on the Purdue depth chart at running back at the end of last season, rushed for a career-high 126 yards. Henry passed for 163 yards and a touchdown, along with 57 rushing yards and three touchdowns.
Purdue rushed for 230 yards against Minnesota. Purdue’s streak of five consecutive games with 200 yards on the ground is the school’s longest streak since 1973.
Minnesota is now 0-2 in the Big Ten and 1-6 overall.
Many commentators, including myself, had already declared the Brewster era in Minnesota over earlier in the season, and the question on the minds of many immediately after the Purdue game was whether the university was going to make it official.
The University of Minnesota appears poised to make it official today that Brewster is going to be terminated as Minnesota’s head coach. The University of Minnesota Athletics Department has scheduled an announcement at 1 pm this afternoon at TCF Bank.
KFAN Radio 1130 is reporting that University of Minnesota Athletic Director Joel Maturi will announce that offensive coach Ed Horton will serve as the interim head coach for the football team for the rest of the season.