Nov. 4, 2006
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -Bryan Cupito passed for 378 yards and four scores as Minnesota defeated Indiana 63-26, scoring more points than it had in a Big Ten contest in 90 years.
Clinging to slim postseason hopes, Minnesota (4-6, 1-5) finally won a conference game. The 63 points were the most scored by the Gophers since they put up 67 against Iowa in 1916.
Indiana (5-5, 3-3), chasing its first bowl invitation since 1993, must host second-ranked Michigan next week and finish on the road at rival Purdue.
Cupito connected with Eric Decker, Matt Spaeth and twice with Ernie Wheelwright for touchdowns, and freshman Jay Thomas rushed for the first two scores of his career. Amir Pinnix and Justin Valentine also reached the end zone on the ground as the Gophers enjoyed an easy homecoming victory in front of a barely half-filled stadium.
Demetrius McCray had three touchdowns for the Hoosiers, two of them on receptions, but he was held to 39 yards on 15 carries.
This looked like a typical Indiana team, not the one that had won three of the last four. The Hoosiers overcame first-half deficits of 17, 18 and 14 points to beat Ball State, Illinois and Iowa earlier this season, but the Gophers dug a hole for them that was too deep to escape.
After totaling only 22 points over the past three games, Minnesota was rejuvenated against a young defense that consistently fell for play-action fakes and frequently left Gophers receivers in man-to-man coverage - sometimes failing to cover them at all.
Pinnix, who rushed for 13 yards on 68 attempts, scored untouched on a 10-yard run that made it 35-0 Minnesota with 9:26 left before halftime. The cumulative numbers on those five scoring drives were incredible: 291 yards on only 18 plays in 9 minutes and 19 seconds.
Cupito had completed 11 passes for 251 yards at that point, and Logan Payne had four catches for 113 yards in the first quarter alone. Even Wheelwright - whose trouble hanging onto the ball have contributed to his slide down Cupito's order of receiver preference - caught a couple passes.
Though the Hoosiers had four long scoring drives in the second half, Minnesota's defense performed well against a dangerous team that put up 46 points against Michigan State the week before.
The elusive Kellen Lewis, a redshirt freshman, showed his age with a handful of wild, risky throws - including interceptions by Mike Sherels and Dominic Jones. Lewis finished 25-for-43 for 321 yards and three scores. He rushed 12 times for 75 yards.
James Hardy, who caught four of the five touchdown passes thrown by Lewis last week against the Spartans, was well-covered most of the afternoon and finished with five receptions, 115 yards and a score.
Blake Powers took over for Lewis late in the fourth quarter and was picked off by Dominique Barber, who returned it 45 yards for the Gophers' ninth touchdown.