FACTS & STATS: Site: Memorial Stadium (52,929) -- Bloomington, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Minnesota 4-1, IU 3-2. Away Record: Minnesota 2-1, IU 0-2. Neutral Record: Minnesota 0-0, IU 0-0. Conference Record: Minnesota 2-2, IU 1-2. Series: Minnesota leads, 37-25-3.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a historic victory last weekend, the Minnesota Golden Gophers turn their attention to the Indiana Hoosiers for a Big Ten Conference clash at Memorial Stadium.
Minnesota beat Nebraska for the first time since 1960 to break a 16-game series losing streak, as the Golden Gophers claimed a 34-23 victory over the nationally-ranked Cornhuskers to become bowl eligible for the second straight year. They are 6-2 overall on the season and enter Saturday's bout seeking a third straight win. Following this tilt, they'll return home to face Penn State and then Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Indiana will try to avoid a third consecutive setback. The Hoosiers had a bye this past week, and they are coming off a 63-47, shootout loss at Michigan on Oct. 19. Saturday's contest is IU's homecoming.
The Gophers lead the all-time series, 37-25-3, although this marks the first meeting between these two schools since 2008.
Minnesota is currently 23rd in the nation in rushing offense (217.8 ypg), but ranks just 119th in passing offense (122.9). But the run-heavy gameplan proved successful against Nebraska, as the Gophers churned out 271 yards (5.0 ypc) and three touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Philip Nelson threw for 152 yards and a touchdown despite completing only 7-of-15 passes, and he also added a pair of rushing scores. The latter of those rushing TDs came with 48 seconds left in regulation to seal the victory. Nelson relieved starter Mitch Leidner on the fourth series. As a team, Minnesota has rushed for 19 touchdowns this year, after totaling only 14 rushing scores all of last year.
The Gophers did a fine job bottling up Taylor Martinez, Nebraska's dual-threat quarterback who had missed the previous three games with a turf toe injury. Martinez, perhaps still not 100 percent, managed only 16 yards on eight attempts, while throwing for 139 yards on 16-of-30 passing. However, Minnesota had a lot more trouble containing I-back Ameer Abdullah, who piled up 165 yards on 19 carries for an average of nearly nine yards per tote. Still, the Gophers were able to clamp down in key spots, as they limited Nebraska to a 4- of-12 success rate on third downs and won the time of possession battle by 11 minutes. They also forced the Cornhuskers to settle for field goals on two of their four trips inside the red zone.
While Minnesota likes to run the ball, Indiana's preferred method of attack is through the air, as the Hoosiers boast the nation's 10th-ranked passing offense (342.7 ypg) and No. 10 total offense (514.0). They are averaging 42.4 points per game, which ranks eighth in the country.
Quarterback Tre Roberson compiled a career-best 338 yards and four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) against Michigan, but the Wolverines offense was even more productive in piling up 63 points. Roberson out-produced fellow QB Nate Sudfeld, who threw for 122 yards on 8-of-19 accuracy. Kofi Hughes caught six passes for 138 yards and a score in the loss. Sudfeld is the Big Ten leader in passing TDs (14) and is third in passing yards per game (246.6), while Roberson leads the league in passing efficiency.
The play on the defensive side of the ball has been a whole different story for the Hoosiers, who are allowing 37.1 ppg and rank 119th in the nation in total defense (498.1 ypg).
Junior cornerback Tim Bennett has been one of the few bright spots, as he leads the nation with 16 pass breakups and 17 passes defended. Junior defensive end John Laihinen is second in the conference with 4.5 sacks. However, there was not much pressure generated against the Wolverines, who amassed a ridiculous 35 first downs and 751 yards of total offense. Michigan punter Matt Wile came in to punt after the first series, and then he made only one other appearance the rest of the game. Greg Heban posted a game-high 12 tackles (10 solo), while Forisse Hardin had nine stops and a fumble recovery in the loss.
Minnesota has not been bowl eligible this early in the season since the 2008 squad started 6-1, and the Gophers are coming off their first win over a ranked opponent since 2010. They must be careful to avoid a letdown against a Hoosiers team that can score in bunches and will be playing at home.