BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The University of Minnesota’s two losses to Iowa and Illinois earlier this month have made it much more complicated, but Minnesota still has a shot at winning the Big Ten West Division.
The avenue for Minnesota (5-3 in Big Ten play) to advance to the Big Ten Championship Game must include these factors:
Minnesota must beat No. 15 Wisconsin (6-2) in the Battle for Paul Bunyan’s Axe next Saturday at Huntington Bank Stadium.
Nebraska (1-7) needs to upset No. 17 Iowa (6-2) on Friday in Lincoln, Neb.
Purdue (5-3) beats Indiana (0-8) on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.
“We have to take care of our business,” Gophers coach P.J. Fleck said. “If we lose next week, it doesn’t matter anyway. Something has to happen outside of our control. We are learning that when you control your own destiny, it works out better for you.
“When you have to have somebody else do something, then you never know,” Fleck continued. “But what we’ve done is put ourselves in a position. We need Iowa to lose and then we’ve got to find a way to get the Axe back. Above that, it’s the Axe. It’s a rivalry game, it’s rivalry week. … We got to play our best football. I know the kids are really excited about the opportunity.”
Tanner Morgan became Minnesota’s all-time winningest quarterback on Saturday, passing Mitch Leidner. Morgan is now 25-12 as a starter.
“It’s pretty cool,” Morgan said. “It’s something that I cherish, understanding there has been a lot of quarterbacks that have done a lot of special things here in the past. It’s something I don’t take lightly. It’s really a team thing.”
Gophers guard Conner Olson broke the Big Ten record for career starts against Indiana on Saturday. Olson made his 56th start, breaking a tie with Ohio State offensive lineman Billy Price (2014-17).
Better in red zone
After settling for three field goals in three red-zone drives against Iowa, the Gophers turned it over on downs on their first drive inside Indiana’s 20 on Saturday.
Minnesota then scored touchdowns on the next five red-zone drives.
Fleck wanted to discuss the first drive. “We were definitely going to go for it,” Fleck said.
The Gophers didn’t have a giveaway for a second consecutive game and won the turnover margin at plus-two with interceptions from defensive backs Phillip Howard and Tyler Nubin. … Cornerback Terell Smith did not play. … Nyles Pinckney recorded Minnesota’s only sack, while Indiana didn’t have any. … Ky Thomas rushed 26 times for 105 yards and two TDs. Mar’Keise Irving added 14 carries for 70 yards and a TD.