The Minnesota Golden Gophers have picked a fine time to play their best game of the season, as they dominated the Illinois Fighting Illini in the first half of the Big Ten regular season finale, taking a 17-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Golden Gophers' defense has already set a season high for sacks in a game with four in the first half, two of them coming from defensive tackle RaShede Hageman. One of those two sacks forced a fumble from Illinois' quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase deep in Illinois territory that the Gophers turned into their first touchdown of the afternoon, courtesy of a 16-yard touchdown run by MarQueis Gray.
A short field led to Minnesota's second touchdown as well, as they began the drive on the Illinois' 46-yard line. From there, they moved down the field in seven plays, completing the drive with an 8-yard pass from Gray to tight end John Rabe to increase Minnesota's lead to 14-0.
Jordan Wettstein took care of the rest of the scoring from there, as he added a 43-yard field goal with 1:17 left in the second quarter to make it 17-0. Then, on the final snap of the first half, he bombed one home from 51 yards out to increase the lead to 20-0.
Thus far, the Illinois' offense has only generated 18 total yards (compared to 205 for the Gophers) and did not register a first down until there were five minutes left in the second half. For Minnesota, Gray is already over 100 yards rushing, having carried the ball 18 times for 110 yards and a score. He has also completed seven of eleven pass attempts thus far for 85 yards and a touchdown.
We're at halftime of the Big Ten regular season finale at TCF Bank Stadium, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers are leading the Illinois Fighting Illini by a score of 20-0.