The Gophers breathed life into their bowl chances Saturday afternoon with a convincing 44-28 win over Purdue. It was a sign of life for a football team that was coming off three straight Big Ten losses.
"It's very rewarding for the young people in the locker room to get a win," said head coach Jerry Kill. "They've stayed consistent, they've worked hard, haven't complained and just come to work every day."
Two weeks ago, the red shirt was pulled off of prized recruit quarterback Philip Nelson against Wisconsin and while he showed some good things in his first college game, having his first start at Camp Randall wasn't exactly ideal.
His first home start however was completely opposite. Nelson led the Gophers on six straight scoring drives in the first half as the team took a 34-7 halftime lead. All three of his touchdown passes came in the first half and the win was the largest conference win since the Gophers defeated Indiana in 2006. All along, Kill's message has been one of patience as his young team continues to grow.
Defensively, Michael Carter was the story. In the first drive of the second half, Carter knocked three passes down including two consecutive before intercepting a Caleb TerBush pass and returning it 43 yards for a touchdown.
"This is my 30th year of coaching and I don't know if I've ever seen a corner have things go like that. They kept throwing over there and the third time he jumped it and made a big play."
Former Gopher coach Glen Mason served as the color commentator for the game and described Carter as being "in the zone" in the first possession of the second half and during his postgame press conference, Carter agreed.
"I will take it back to game planning with coach Sawvel and coach Claeys working on route concepts and different situations," said Carter. "I took advantage of that and I felt that I was in the zone."
The Gophers moved to 5-3, 1-3 in the Big Ten and will host Michigan Saturday morning at 11am.