Brooks leads Gophers to nail-biter win
Final: Minnesota 27, Ohio 24
Telling stat: Only nine Minnesota third downs
Minnesota finally didn’t put itself in impossible situations. That plagued the Gophers last week during their brutal offensive showing against Kent State. Credit Mitch Leidner for converting four of those opportunities and keeping drives alive. He hit nine different receivers, which has to be a welcome sight for a Minnesota offense that likes playmakers on the outside. The Gophers were much better early in series, which is why they were in position for their best offensive effort of the season.
Key play: Shannon Brooks game-winning touchdown with 30 seconds left
You mean to tell me this kid never had a carry before Saturday? The true freshman had a whale of a debut at tailback, delivering the go-ahead score in the final minute to prevent Minnesota from avoiding a MAC disaster. Brooks even broke off a season-long 40-yard touchdown to get the Gophers on the board. Rodney Smith has been the freshman running back creating buzz all year in the Twin Cities. You might’ve confused the two on Saturday.
Minnesota could’ve lost in crushing fashion had the referees not made an odd call. With a chance to win it on a 53-yard field goal, Minnesota called a timeout to ice the kicker. He still went through the motion and booted the ball, as all kickers do in that situation. The refs, however, called a delay of game, which pushed the kick back a 58-yarder. That made a game-winner all but impossible and Minnesota held on.
Brian Boddy-Calhoun, Cody Poock and Antonio Johnson were all banged up on Saturday. That’s bad news for a team that’s been built on this defense, even if the injuries are minor. Nothing was made official about Boddy-Calhoun’s injury, though he was sidelined with his helmet off. He would obviously be an irreplaceable piece if he were to miss any time. But he was on the sideline and still in uniform, so that would suggest the injury shouldn’t be a long-term one.
What it means: Minnesota will never make it easy
Make it another one-possession game for Minnesota. They’re the only B1G team and probably one of the only in the country to start the season with four straight one-possession games. There’s value in that. For a veteran quarterback like Leidner, it’s more late-game experience for a guy who needs to be confident late like he was on Saturday. For the sake of Gopher fans, let’s hope Minnesota can eventually win a game by a few scores.