MINNEAPOLIS – The quarterback didn’t practice until Thursday but still was effective.
A walk-on running back helped the seal the win with an electrifying run the program hasn’t seen in years. The defense choked off Minnesota’s run game and created three takeaways through the air.
That’s how Purdue stunned No. 21 Minnesota on Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium. It wasn’t pretty but the Boilermakers showed they’re learning how to win close games after experiencing a pair of heartbreaking defeats to start the season.
And not that it matters – Saturday was Purdue’s first win outdoors in Minneapolis since 1972.
On with the countdown:
5 PLAYERS WHO MATTERED
Cam Allen: On a defense with several noteworthy options, the safety corralled a pair of interceptions, including one in the fourth quarter that sealed the road victory over a ranked team. The first one took place in the end zone after it bounced off the hands of a Golden Gophers receiver, thwarting a scoring opportunity. The second one came with 1:52 to play and Minnesota was desperate to cut into the 10-point lead. Allen played centerfield and Tanner Morgan overshot his target and the senior was in the right position. It’s Allen’s second two-interception game during his career, and both came against ranked teams on the road. He has 10 in his career and the Boilermakers are now 7-1 when Allen has an interception, including five straight victories.
Devin Mockobee: He makes the list for one play – the amazing and galvanizing 68-yard run that sent Minnesota fans to the exit. The Boilermakers were trying to run out the clock, holding a 13-10 lead with 3:58 to play. Mockobee weaved his way through the left side of the line, cut back to the middle, broke a couple of arm tackles and found himself in the open field much to the delight of the Purdue bench. He appeared headed for a touchdown but was dragged down at the 2-yard line. He punched the ball in on the next play and the Boilermakers had a 10-point lead and secured a much-needed road victory to inject themselves into the Big Ten West race. Mockobee finished with 112 rushing yards and overcame a first-half fumble in Minnesota territory, one of three turnovers for Purdue. The 68-yard run is the longest by a Boilermaker since Rondale Moore busted out a 76-yard TD against Northwestern in 2018. Dylan Downing had over 100 yards against Florida Atlantic and now Mockobee. Is Purdue now the Cradle of Running Backs?
Kydran Jenkins: Part of a defensive line that stopped Minnesota’s running game in its tracks. Granted, the Gophers were without Mohamad Ibrahim, but the Boilermakers seemed prepared to make sure there was nowhere to run for any Minnesota back. Jenkins played a role, but his biggest contribution was pressuring the quarterback. The defensive end/linebacker had 1.5 sacks and forced one fumble as the line is starting to get more pressure in the backfield. The depth is there to become a force late in games and Jenkins has taken a step forward over the last couple of weeks. Purdue had seven tackles for loss – a season high against an FBS team – and collected two sacks, tying a season high against an FBS team. The Boilermakers will need more pressure next week against Maryland.
Cory Trice: The stat sheet tells us the talented cornerback didn’t register a tackle, didn’t have an interception, didn’t force a fumble but played his best game of the season. He had a pair of pass breakups and had an opportunity for three interceptions. His coverage was solid and made an impact away from the ball. It’s been a tough season for Trice, who has battled back from knee surgery and looked comfortable for the first time this season. Saturday might have been the first time Trice didn’t play with a knee brace. Purdue needs its cornerbacks to raise their level of play and as a group, they did it against the Gophers. Minnesota receiver Daniel Jackson got loose for some big plays and accounted for 36% of his team’s total yardage but the Gophers scored one touchdown and kicked one field goal. The secondary is in for a test next week against the Terrapins.
Semisi Fakasiieiki: The 10th-year linebacker – OK, it’s only seven – led the Boilermakers with eight tackles and had a pair of tackles for loss. This was the right offense for Fakasiieiki to shine against. A power running team that goes straight ahead instead of sideline-to-sideline. That fits into Fakasiieiki’s wheelhouse, and he delivered stops throughout the game. With the defensive line eating up blocks, Fakasiieiki was able to make plays near the line of scrimmage. The Boilermakers held Minnesota to 47 rushing yards, the program’s lowest total since 2015.
4 KEY PLAYS
Big pass play: Scored tied at 10, fourth quarter and it’s second-and-7 from the Purdue 35 and Aidan O’Connell finds Charlie Jones for a 28-yard gain to the Minnesota 35. It’s the longest pass play of the game for the offense. Eight plays later, Mitchell Fineran kicks a 25-yard field goal to give Purdue a 13-10 lead.
Mockobee’s run: See above.
First of two picks: Second quarter, Purdue leading 10-0 and the Gophers are in the red zone at the 11. On the previous play, Tanner Morgan hit tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford for 28 yards. However, Morgan’s next pass bounces off the hands of a Minnesota receiver and into the arms of Allen. The 10-0 lead is preserved.
The first play: Jack Sullivan and Reese Taylor throwing running back Trey Potts for a 5-yard loss set the tone for the defense and the team. Sullivan also later tipped a pass that was intercepted by Jacob Wahlberg.
2: Wins by Brohm against Minnesota coach P.J. Fleck
35: Consecutive games Purdue had thrown at least one touchdown pass before Saturday. The last time the Boilermakers didn’t throw a TD pass was against Auburn in the 2018 Music City Bowl.
47: Minnesota’s rushing yards, the fewest allowed by Purdue since holding Nebraska to 40 in 2017.
▶ What in the name of Goldy Gopher was Fleck thinking on fourth-and-1 from the Minnesota 29-yard line in the first quarter?
▶ Can the offense continue its balanced attack for the rest of the season?
1 FINAL THOUGHT
Saturday was nearly a make-or-break game for the Boilermakers. Already sitting at 0-1 in the Big Ten, Purdue couldn’t afford to fall deeper in the conference standings starting October with three road games and facing one of the hottest teams in the country. Yes, it’s the Big Ten West where no one is really out of it. It helped that Ibrahim was out, but the defense appeared determined to cut off the blood supply to Minnesota’s run game, regardless of who was in the backfield. Purdue did that and made enough plays in the secondary to frustrate the Golden Gophers and deliver their first taste of adversity this season. The defense still had too many missed tackles, an area that will haunt them the rest of the conference season if not corrected. The close losses to Penn State and Syracuse paid dividends the last two weeks and that experience came to the forefront in Saturday’s win. The offense is as balanced as it has been since Brohm’s first season in 2017 with contributions in the running game coming from unexpected spots. O’Connell and the passing game weren’t sharp but that’s to be expected since the sixth-year quarterback hasn’t been on the practice field a lot the last two weeks due to his injury. While Jones was still the main target, four other players caught four passes to balance out the passing attack and put stress on the defense. Purdue now goes from Minnesota’s style to Maryland’s dynamic offense and the talented receivers and running backs on the roster. It’s a different challenge for the defense that will be forced to play more in space and keep plays in front of them. The Terrapins’ defense will give O’Connell and company opportunities to move the ball, but the Boilermakers need to cut down on the turnovers and keep cleaning up the penalties. Six teams are now 1-1 in the Big Ten West, and nothing won’t be decided until we reach November. Buckle up because more weird stuff is about to happen.
Mike Carmin covers Purdue sports for the Journal & Courier and USA Today Sports Network. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter and Instagram @carmin_jc
This article originally appeared on Lafayette Journal & Courier: Purdue vs Minnesota football: Top players, key moments from victory