OK, so drubbing New Hampshire (UNH) isn’t exactly on the same level as taking down Alabama but considering where the Minnesota Golden Gopher football program has been the past three seasons Saturday’s 44-7 pasting of the Wildcats had to feel pretty good to Gopher fans.
Quarterback MarQueis Gray, who had problems hitting open receivers in the Gophers win over UNLV last Thursday, didn’t need to throw much against UNH. Gray threw only eight passes. He completed six of those for 100 yards and two touchdowns. Where Gray really made his mark on this game though was running the ball. He ran the ball 17 times for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The first of his two touchdown runs covered 75 yards near the end of the 1st quarter.
The Gophers opened the scoring with a safety when UNH punter Mike MacArthur let a snap fly over his head and out the back of the end zone.
In between the safety and Gray’s long touchdown run the Gophers took a 9-0 lead on a 27 yard touchdown pass from Gray to sophomore wide receiver Isaac Fruechte. UNH scored their only points of the game on a 1st quarter, 8 play, 76 yard drive that made the score 9-7, Gophers.
That was as close as UNH would get though as Gray answered the Wildcats touchdown drive immediately with his long touchdown run.
The Gophers scored 30 points in the first half. The broke the 40 point barrier for the first time since 2009. They had not won by more than 36 points since the 2006 season. They rushed for 240 yards in the game, passed for 172 yards for 412 total net yards. The Gopher defense held UNH to 68 yards rushing and 231 total net yards.
It’s important for Gopher fans not to read too much into this game. New Hampshire is a slightly better than average FCS team and the Gophers should have thumped the Wildcats in the manner that they did. It is also true however that the Gophers have played poorly against mediocre non-conference opponents at home in recent seasons and have run up a number of embarassing losses (South Dakota and Northern Illinois in 2010; New Mexico State and North Dakota State in 2011) in those games.
When all is said and done though Gopher fans have every right to feel good about and celebrate finally putting a pasting on an opponent!
The Gophers will take on the Western Michigan Broncos this coming Saturday, Sept. 15th at TCF Bank Stadium. Kickoff is at noon CDT and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Citations: www.btn.com; www.startribune.com; www.espn.com