The Minnesota Golden Gophers travel to face the Purdue Boilermakers on Saturday, November 11 at Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana. Live coverage will be on NBC and Peacock, starting at 3:30 p.m. ET. Keep reading for how to watch and key storylines for the game.
Minnesota has its back against the wall in the Golden Gophers' quest for their first-ever berth to a Big Ten Championship game after losing to Illinois, 27-26, last week at home. Now, Minnesota's clearest path to the Big Ten West title and the conference championship game is to win its final three regular season games and have No. 22 Iowa lose at least one game.
With little to no room for error, the Gophers' next test comes in the form of a 2-7 Purdue team that has only won one conference matchup all season – yep, you guessed it: Illinois. Purdue beat Illinois handily, 44-19, at the end of September, and just last week, the Boilermakers put up 13 on No. 3 Michigan – the most of any team this season. So while the Gophers may have three more W's in the win column, this is no pushover matchup, especially on the road at Ross-Ade Stadium.
"We know we got to travel to Purdue, and it's going to be a tough matchup, that's for sure," Minnesota head coach P.J. Fleck said this week. " ... They're a very similar style (of defense) of what you saw last week to this week, just because of Ryan Walters being head coach and being the former coordinator in Illinois and then keeping that similar system. It's not the same, but there's some similarities to it. So, there's some things that might be some carryover. A lot of it's going to have to change but some carryover as well."
Redshirt sophomore Athan Kaliakmanis is the first new starting quarterback for the Gophers in five years, following in the footsteps of Tanner Morgan, who finished his career with the most wins by a quarterback in program history (33) and now plays for the Minnesota Vikings. Just lat week, Kaliakmanis posted a career-high three passing touchdowns in the loss against the Fighting Illini.
On the ground, fellow redshirt sophomore Jordan Rubin has stepped in nicely for the team's leading rusher, Darius Taylor, who has missed the last two games with a leg injury.
Jordan's brother, fifth-year senior Tyler, has been a key player on the Gopher defense the past few years and tied the program record for career interceptions (12) in the loss to Illinois.
Since the win against Illinois on September 30, Purdue has dropped four-straight, including losses to No. 1 Ohio State and No. 3 Michigan (the other two to current Big Ten West leader Iowa and Nebraska).
The biggest head-scratcher is the defense allowing a Big Ten-worst 31.2 points per game despite the hiring of defensive-minded head coach Ryan Walters this season and multiple standouts: linebackers Kydran Jenkins and Nic Scourton and safety Dillon Thieneman, to name a few.
The offense has been spotty, with redshirt junior quarterback Hudson Card, a transfer from Texas, putting up significant passing yards (1,861 so far this season) but struggling with turnovers (eight interceptions, three fumbles). Card now faces a Minnesota defense that ranks second in the conference in interceptions (11) and takeaways (18).
Despite the areas for improvement, the Boilermakers have had bright spots this season and shown fight.
"I am proud of the way they fought," Walters said after the loss to Michigan. "They know kind of the situation we're in right now. There weren't any mental errors. They were communicating and on the same page. They fought. It's two-fold on where we are just from an injury standpoint and just playing against arguably the best defense in the country."
With a bowl game no longer on the table, perhaps the removal of expectations will be just what Purdue needs to snap its losing streak; they have been known as the "Spoilermakers" in the past for pulling off upsets.
How to watch the Minnesota Golden Gophers vs. Purdue Boilermakers
When: Saturday, November 11
Where: Ross-Ade Stadium in West Lafayette, Indiana
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
Watch: NBC and Peacock
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