Wrapping up today’s action, Minnesota held off Syracuse, 17-10, and Louisiana Tech dropped Illinois, 52-24. As he’s done all day, BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart offers his thoughts and analysis from the action under the lights in this post. See his early game thoughts and afternoon thoughts.
Donnell Kirkwood rushed for 99 yards and two touchdowns and the Minnesota defense showed it is no longer the pushover it has been for decades in a 17-10 victory over Syracuse on Saturday night. The Golden Gophers forced four turnovers and Max Shortell threw for 231 yards in place of injured starter MarQueis Gray to improve to 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
Donnell Kirkwood led Minnesota in the quarter. He ran for 34 yards and one touchdown, and the Golden Gophers now lead 14-3. Minnesota opened up the lead, 14-3, after marching down the field for a 12-play, 87-yard drive that ended when Kirkwood pounded in a one-yard touchdown run.
Minnesota and Syracuse combined for a total of no points and one turnover in a sloppy second quarter and the margin is still four, as the Golden Gophers lead 7-3.
Minnesota got things going through the air, passing for 91 yards in the quarter, and the Golden Gophers lead 7-3 at the end of the first quarter. Minnesota scored when Donnell Kirkwood ran two yards to paydirt to put the finishing touches on a five-play, 58-yard drive, giving the Golden Gophers the game’s first lead. The key play on Minnesota’s drive was Antonio Johnson’s 40-yard pass to Devin Crawford-Tufts.
It’s time for my weekly ranking of the Big Ten’s slate of games and Week 4 holds some intriguing matchups. See where your team’s game ranks on my list and get my complete preview of all ten Big Ten games (Purdue and Indiana are off this week).
Last week, I opened the column by dwelling on the negative. Not happening this week. We’re starting with the positive – the Big Ten’s three unbeaten teams.
Every week, BTN.com’s Brent Yarina (@BTNBrentYarina) and Tom Dienhart (@BTNTomDienhart) offer their predictions for each Big Ten football game. We also provide a poll for all of the games so fans can vote for their winners. After three weeks, it’s Tom and BTN.com fans on top, at 28-8, while Brent is in the cellar, at 27-9. See our Week 4 predictions and choose your winners in this post.
As I do every Wednesday, I have questions that I hope are answered Saturday. One week away from the start of Big Ten play, here are my most pressing queries for the 10 Big Ten teams in action this week.
Minnesota has been one of the pleasant surprises in the Big Ten, notching a 3-0 start that has fans thinking the Golden Gophers have a good chance to play in a bowl for the first time since 2009.
The Big Ten went 10-2 last week. But look closer. It wasn’t an impressive 10-2. The wins came vs. FCS Charleston Southern; FCS Northern Iowa; UMass; Arkansas State, Western Michigan; Cal; Navy; Boston College, Utah State and Eastern Michigan. And Indiana lost to Ball State.