Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE
The Golden Gophers had to battle through injuries on their offensive line to beat Illinois on Saturday.
The Minnesota Golden Gophers lost their top-two centers due to injury in their 17-3 win over Illinois on Saturday. Zach Mottla is out for the year after injuring his leg and being carted off the field in the fourth quarter, according to twincities.com. Jon Christenson, the starter, suffered a high ankle sprain.
Zac Epping moved over from his guard position to finish out the game at center. Minnesota head coach Jerry Kill felt fortunate that Epping was able to handle snapping duties, and twincities.com noted:
"Going through three centers and winning a game -- that's unheard of," Kill said. "That gives (offensive coordinator/offensive line coach) Matt Limegrover a lot of credit for making sure we've been snapping all three of those guys. That's more amazing to me than anything, that we can use three centers in one game. Usually, you don't even travel three centers. We just happened to have a guard that can snap."
Minnesota was able to still do enough on offense to pull out the victory. The Gophers came through with two touchdowns in the second half to pull away and win comfortably, even with the injuries along the offensive line.
The win over the Illini was the sixth of the season for Minnesota, making them bowl eligible. The Golden Gophers have not played in the postseason since the 2009 Insight Bowl.