Purdue routs Minnesota 45-17
By: By Cliff Brunt, AP Sports Writer, Superior Telegram
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — For all the inconsistency Purdue has demonstrated this season, the Boilermakers find themselves in a decent position after their conference opener.
Akeem Shavers caught a touchdown pass and ran for another score to help Purdue beat Minnesota 45-17 on Saturday. Purdue bounced back from its 38-10 loss to Notre Dame with its largest margin of victory in a Big Ten game since a 62-10 win over Indiana on Nov. 22, 2008.
Now, Purdue at least carries some momentum into a rugged part of its Big Ten schedule. In the next five weeks, the Boilermakers (3-2, 1-0) play at Penn State, at home against No. 19 Illinois, at No. 12 Michigan and No. 4 Wisconsin, and at home against Ohio State.
"We do look at the Big Ten season as a whole new season." Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush said. "We had a chip on our shoulders after last week's loss. I think we corrected our mistakes and learned some valuable lessons."
The loss to Notre Dame had some fans questioning whether Danny Hope was the man to lead the program, but Purdue looked like a different team against Minnesota. TerBush completed 14 of 21 passes for 140 yards and a score and O.J. Ross caught five passes for 63 yards and a score.
The win finally allowed the ever-positive Hope to return to his comfort zone. And doubt, he said, is only coming from outside the locker room.
"We didn't like losing and we had to get some things right," the coach said. "We had a lot of adversity to overcome. That really pulled us together. There's nobody or anything that can pull us apart."
Ricardo Allen returned an interception for a touchdown and Ryan Russell recovered two fumbles for Purdue, which held the Golden Gophers to 211 total yards.
"The backbreaker was fumbling the ball multiple times," Minnesota coach Jerry Kill said. "We certainly compliment Purdue for their aggressiveness to cause those things, but we just can't make mistakes like that."
Purdue rushed for 217 yards on 47 carries. Akeem Hunt led the way with 60 yards, Shavers had 52, Ralph Bolden had 33 and Raheem Mostert had 31.
Though Purdue won big, controversy remained.
Purdue has played both TerBush and Robert Marve at quarterback the past three games. Hope said after the Notre Dame game that TerBush had a better command of the offense, and Marve played outside the system at times when he didn't need to. On his Twitter account, Marve wrote: "Don't understand how I was not playing in the system! It was rough from the get go, don't understand how that was on me."
Hope said he understood Marve's concern and the only negative issue was the response by the fans and the media. And he said he wants Marve to play outside the system at times.
Hope appeared to backtrack Saturday. When asked about TerBush's performance against Minnesota, he reflected on the Marve situation.
"I'm scared to say anything because it might be taken out of context," he said. "So I'll be sure to look at the film before I give any assessment of quarterback play because I don't know who all can handle it and who can't."
MarQueis Gray passed for 104 yards and rushed for 20 yards and a score for Minnesota (1-5, 0-2). The Golden Gophers tried to bounce back from a 58-0 loss to Michigan but lost their third straight.
Purdue had a false start on its first offensive play a week after committing 13 penalties against Notre Dame, but the mistakes were few after that against the Gophers. Bolden's 2-yard run gave the Boilermakers a 7-0 lead.
Carson Wiggs hit a season-long 53-yard field goal to increase Purdue's lead to 10-0 with 5:18 left in the first quarter.
Minnesota's Donnell Kirkwood fumbled and Russell recovered at the Minnesota 11-yard line. The Boilermakers went for it on fourth-and-goal, and Shavers extended the ball to the pylon and scored to push the lead to 17-0.
Gray, who missed the Michigan game with a toe injury, replaced starter Max Shortell and got a rude welcome back. Allen jumped a route, intercepted a pass and returned it 37 yards for a touchdown to give the Boilermakers a 24-0 lead. It was the third touchdown return of Allen's career, tying Mike Rose and Rod Woodson for the most in school history. The 24 points were the most Purdue has scored in a quarter since producing 24 in the Indiana game in 2008.
"I think that our team came out and played with great enthusiasm and energy," Hope said. "We had a lot more energy and enthusiasm as a team, and I think that made a difference in our fast start."
Marve entered the game in the second quarter and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Ross that gave the Boilermakers a 31-0 lead with 4:08 left in the second quarter.
Minnesota finally got on the board with a 47-yard field goal by Chris Hawthorne, breaking a run of 95 consecutive points by its opponents. Purdue held Minnesota to 88 yards and six first downs in the first half to lead 31-3 at the break.
TerBush returned in the third quarter and led a 12-play, 86-yard scoring drive. His 10-yard touchdown pass on a screen to Shavers gave Purdue a 38-3 lead.
Mostert's 25-yard touchdown run gave Purdue a 45-3 lead late in the third quarter.
Minnesota's Marcus Jones returned the kickoff 92 yards for Minnesota's first touchdown since the fourth quarter against North Dakota State two weeks ago.
Gray's 1-yard touchdown run cut Purdue's lead to 45-17 midway through the fourth quarter.
"I thought the effort was better today," Minnesota linebacker Mike Rallis said. "That's how we're always trying to be, playing hard for 60 minutes, regardless of what it says on the scoreboard. We just need to put ourselves in a better situation earlier in the game."