Bowled over: Gophers blown out 49-30 by Purdue

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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — What a difference a fortnight can make.

Coming off a rivalry game victory over Iowa, the Gophers had beat Michigan State on Oct. 28 and went into Halloween parties feeling good, sitting in first place in the Big Ten West Division.

Two weeks later, Minnesota has lost two straight and will struggle to reach bowl eligibility, needing a a sixth win through Thanksgiving weekend.

The Gophers got blown out 49-30 by Purdue at Ross-Ade Stadium on Saturday — an almost never-ending series of defensive calamities and capitulations.

Minnesota (5-5, 3-4 Big Ten) plays at No. 1 Ohio State next week and will host rival Wisconsin on Nov. 25.

Snapping a four-game losing streak, Purdue (3-7, 2-5) put up season highs for total yards (604), rushing yards (353) and points.

The breakdowns were foreshadowed at the end of the 27-26 loss to Illinois last week. It was also reminiscent of another Illinois game in 2018, when the Illini destroyed Minnesota so completely that defensive coordinator Robb Smith was fired the next day.

On Saturday Boilermakers quarterback Hudson Card was made to look like Drew Brees or even Aidan O’Connell. Card threw for three touchdowns and 251 yards.

Running backs Devin Mocokbee and Tyrone Tracy each went over 100 yards rushing and a touchdown apiece. Card added 44 on the ground and another score.

The Gophers cut the Purdue lead to 28-20, but the offense went missing in action in the second half for a third straight week.

The Gophers allowed 28 first-half points — the most since Michigan scored 35 in the 2020 season opener.

The Gophers defense could do nothing to stop Purdue’s offense on its opening four drives. The Boilermakers produced four touchdown drives spanning at least 75 yards apiece.

It was the first time Purdue (3-7, 2-5) scored four touchdowns to start a game since 2004 against Ball State.

After Devin Mockobee’s 65-yard run late in the second quarter — the longest rush allowed by the U this season — the Boilermakers were averaging an unbelievable 25.5 yards per play.

Minnesota’s defense missed injured starting linebackers Cody Lindenberg and Maverick Baranowski, but breakdowns came along the defense line and secondary as well.

It was Minnesota’s offense that set the frantic pace on its opening drive, but they couldn’t keep up.

The Gophers marched down the field, scoring easily after only four plays and two minutes into the game. Tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford was left wide open, and Kaliakmanis found him for a 20-yard score to make it 7-0.

After being held scoreless on opening drives through the first eight games, Minnesota produced touchdowns against Illinois and Purdue.

Then the Gophers offense had two drives stall inside the 30-yard line, and they settled for two shorter field goals from Dragan Kesich.

On the next drive, Chris Autman-Bell dropped a touchdown in the end zone on third down and Kesich missed 39-yard field.

But after forcing Purdue to punt for the first time on its fifth drive,  Kaliakmanis found Chris Autman-Bell for a 27-yard touchdown to cut the Boilermakers’ lead to 28-20 with 16 seconds left in the half.

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