Backup running back Jordan Nubin — a former walk-on defensive back — had a breakout game with 204 yards on 40 carries at Huntington Bank Stadium.
When Jordan scored an 18-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, Tyler greeted his younger brother with a hug before he reached the sideline. Jordan added a second touchdown late in the fourth quarter, and Tyler was right there again to celebrate.
The Gophers (5-3, 3-2 Big Ten) were touchdown betting favorite, but needed to overcome three turnovers to win. The Spartans (2-6, 0-6) gave the ball away twice late in the game and have lost six straight games under interim head coach Harlon Barnett.
Jordan Nubin came into the season as a fifth-stringer and was playing due to injuries with three other tailbacks — Darius Taylor, Zach Evans and Bryce Williams. Nubin had only 51 career rushing yards coming into Saturday, including all 25 of his yards this season in garbage time in the blowout loss to Michigan in early October.
“It was just amazing,” Jordan Nubin said on KFAN.
Jordan Nubin assumed a much bigger role after Sean Tyler’s fumbling issues resurfaced in the first quarter.
When Jordan started getting carries in the first half, Tyler wasn’t paying much attention to the defensive adjustments on the sidelines, focusing on what his brother was up to with the offense.
In his own right, Tyler Nubin, two-time Big Ten defensive player of the week, added five tackles on defense on Saturday. He added a stop on a two-point conversion attempt as Michigan State was staging a comeback attempt.
Athan Kaliakmanis threw for 190 yards and a touchdown in the first half, before it became Jordan Nubin’s big day. Kaliakmanis finished with 200 yards passing, with a second-half interception, and added 18-yard run when the Spartans defense collapsed on what they thought was a handoff to Nubin.
The first half was marred by two Gophers’ turnovers and a blocked field goal attempt, but Minnesota scored on its final two drives of the half to take a 10-6 lead.
With 26 seconds left in the half, Kaliakmanis hit Daniel Jackson for a 22-yard touchdown. It capped an eight-play, 94-yard drive, with a crucial 30-yard contested catch from Brevyn Spann-Ford.
It was the U’s first touchdown in nearly eight full quarters; the previous TD came just before halftime in the 52-10 loss to Michigan on Oct. 7. After the bye week, the U won on the back of four field goals in a 12-10 win at Iowa last Saturday.
The Gophers had one fumble lost across the first seven games, but coughed up two on the first two series Saturday. Tyler fumbled on the second play of the game, an issue he has had dating back to Week 2 against Eastern Michigan. Then five offensive plays later, Kalaikmanis was strip-sacked.
Michigan State had great field position inside the U’s 35-yard line on both drives, but settled for two field goals and a 6-0 lead.
Minnesota third drive was upended by a holding call and the fourth drive ended in a blocked field goal attempt from 35 yards out. The U put together an eight-play, 53-yard drive to get on the board.