Donnell Kirkwood was the deciding factor for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns in a 17-3 win over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Saturday. Kirkwood scored from 3 yards out near the end of the third quarter to break a 3-3 tie, and found the end zone in the final two minutes of the game to put it out of reach.
The Illini held a 3-0 lead heading into the second quarter after Nick Immekus kicked a 20-yard field goal, but Minnesota soon matched it with a 20-yard field goal of its own, from Jordan Wetstein. Both drives stalled out just at the goal line.
But it was Minnesota that found the end zone first, and that sealed the win. Illinois had a costly fumble near the end of the game that set Minnesota up with its second touchdown, which put the game out of reach. The team hadn't shown any pop on offense prior to that drive, but essentially handed over the win with that one.
Box Score Hero: Donnell Kirkwood was the player to watch in this one, carrying the ball 28 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns, good for a per-carry average of 5.4 yards. He was part of a Minnesota rushing attack that had 231 yards total, and out-gained Illinois' rushing attack of 101 yards by himself.
Rankings Ramifications: Neither team stands any chance of being ranked, and both have poor records within the Big Ten. Minnesota now has a 2-4 record within the conference and a 6-4 record overall, while Illinois is 0-6 within the Big Ten.
But Did They Cover? Minnesota was a narrow favorite in this one, being favored by 3 points at the most, according to SB Nation's NCAA Football odds page. They covered just fine, though the game didn't get anywhere near the over/under of about 45 points.
Next Week's Schedule: Minnesota will take on No. 16 Nebraska Nov. 17, while Illinois will host Pudue on the same day.