Hoosiers Head North to Take On Golden Gophers

    Go Hoosiers! Marcus Thigpen and the Hoosiers face their first road test when they head to Minnesota this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Marcus Thigpen and the Hoosiers face their first road test when they head to Minnesota this weekend.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Oct. 3, 2008

    Minnesota Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

    Hitting the road for the first time in 2008, the Indiana football team travels to Minneapolis for a showdown with Minnesota for the final time at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome (64,712) on Saturday, Oct. 4. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. CDT/noon EDT and the game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.

    The Hoosiers are coming off a 42-29 defeat to Michigan State in their Big Ten opener. Senior running back Marcus Thigpen rushed for 113 yards and two scores to go along with 94 receiving yards and one TD. He finished the contest with 267 all-purpose yards, which ranks 10th in IU history.

    Scouting Minnesota
    After sweeping through its non-conference slate with a perfect 4-0 mark, Minnesota dropped its Big Ten opener at No. 14 Ohio State, 34-21, last weekend. The Golden Gophers own a perfect 3-0 mark at home.

    Led by sophomore quarterback Adam Weber and the Big Ten's leading receiver Eric Decker, the Gophers are third in the Big Ten in scoring (33.2) and passing offense (230.8). Weber ranks second in the league with 230.8 passing yards per game and fourth in total offense at 249.0 yards each time out. He is completing a league-best 69.9 percent of his passes for 1,154 yards, eight touchdowns and just two interceptions.

    Decker, who also stars on Minnesota's baseball team, leads the Big Ten with 7.40 receptions (T-8th nationally) and 101.2 receiving yards per game (14 nationally). The junior has hauled in 37 receptions for 506 yards and four scores. True freshman running back DeLeon Eskridge leads the Gopher rushing attack with 280 yards and five TDs.

    Minnesota's defense has forced 14 turnovers (eight interceptions, six fumbles) and ranks third in the country with a plus-9 turnover margin. Defensive backs Traye Simmons and Kyle Theret each own a pair of picks and six different Gophers have recovered a fumble. Minnesota allows 20.8 points, 143.6 rushing yards and 223.0 passing yards per game.

    Head coach Tim Brewster is in his second season at the helm of the Golden Gopher program. Brewster holds a 5-12 overall record.

    The Minnesota Series
    Indiana and Minnesota will meet for the 66th time on Saturday. The Golden Gophers lead the all-time series 36-26-3 and have won the last four meetings in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome. IU's last win in Minneapolis came on Oct. 2, 1993 (23-19) on the heels of a 24-17 victory on Oct. 31 the previous season. The Hoosiers have won 11 of the last 17 meetings in the series and the teams have split the last 10 ballgames.

    All-Purpose Back
    Senior captain Marcus Thigpen recorded his second 100-yard game of the season and the fourth of his career with 113 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns vs. Michigan State. Thigpen also added two receptions for 94 yards and a score along with 60 kick return yards.

    The track standout who has been dubbed "The Fastest Man in Bloomington" raced a career-long 78 yards to paydirt and took a Kellen Lewis pass 79 yards to the house to become the first Hoosier to ever record a rushing and a receiving TD over 75 yards in the same game.

    Thigpen is the first Hoosier to score on the ground and through the air since Demetrius McCray at Minnesota in 2006 and his run was the longest since Levron Williams scored on an 80-yarder in 2001. It marked the third time in his career he has scored twice on the ground and the first time in his career he crossed the goal line on three separate occasions.

    The Detroit native is one of three players (Javon Ringer, Kory Sheets) to sit in the Big Ten's top 10 in all-purpose yards (3rd, 12th nationally; 169.8), kick returns (3rd, 20.9), scoring (4th, 7.5) and rushing (10th, 66.2). Thigpen closed the game with 267 all-purpose yards, the 10th-highest total in IU history. He also holds the fourth-best mark with 311 yards at Illinois (Oct. 7, 2006).

    Thigpen is on the brink of entering the Hoosiers' top five all-time all-purpose yardage list with 3,618 in his career, 376 yards behind Thomas Lewis (3,994 from 1991-93). He owns 1,255 career rushing yards, 915 career receiving yards and 1,448 career kick return yards, which ranks fourth in school history.

    Using His Speed
    Earlier this season against Murray State Thigpen scampered 67 yards in the first quarter and added a 31-yarder later in the same stanza en route to his third career 100-yard game. With 100 yards on just seven carries, Thigpen set a new school record for the fewest number of rushes to top 100 yards.

    Thigpen finished the game with five plays over 20 yards, including two on the ground, two on kickoffs and one through the air. He added four more against Michigan State to push his team-leading total to 12, four of which have resulted in six points. Thigpen has seven 20-plus yard kick returns, three rushes over 20 yards and two receptions for 20-plus yards.

    In his last two Big Ten games (Purdue, 2007), Thigpen has rushed 28 times for 253 yards and two TDS.

    Let's Play Two
    For the first time this season, the Hoosiers utilized quarterbacks Kellen Lewis and Ben Chappell on the field at the same time vs. Michigan State. Trailing 3-0 in the first quarter, Chappell and Lewis guided IU 51 yards on 10 plays in 3:58 to grab a 7-3 advantage. Chappell hit Lewis on passes twice for 17 yards, while Lewis ran twice for 13 yards and completed 2-of-3 for 19 yards, including an eight-yard TD strike to junior wideout Ray Fisher.

    The duo shared the field on nine plays in the ballgame. Lewis finished 12-of-21 for 177 yards and two TDs to go along with seven carries for 26 yards and those two receptions. Chappell, who also filled in for an injured Lewis, connected on 11-of-23 for 107 yards.

    Running Wild
    Bill Lynch has preached to his team the importance of running the ball and it has received the message thus far in 2008. Indiana scored six touchdowns on the ground against Murray State, the first time the Hoosiers have run for six TDs or more since they ran for seven in a 63-32 victory over Wisconsin on Oct. 6, 2001.

    Five different Hoosiers scored on the ground in the game, the first time that has happened since Oct. 22, 1949 (Pittsburgh). Marcus Thigpen (twice), Bryan Payton, Demetrius McCray, Ben Chappell and Zach Davis-Walker each crossed the goal line. In 2007, only four Hoosiers reached the end zone all season. Indiana also divvied up its participation across the board, as eight different players recorded rushes.

    IU has rushed for 996 yards (249.0 per game) on 170 attempts (42.5 per game) this season, good for 5.9 yards per carry. Indiana's 249.0 average ranks second in the Big Ten and 10th nationally. After crossing the goal line just 18 times on the ground in 2007, the Hoosiers have recorded 11 rushing scores this season. Indiana posted a 5-0 record in 2007 when rushing for over 200 yards and carrying the ball over 40 times, and it is 2-1 this season when reaching those benchmarks.

    End Over End
    One of the team's biggest question marks heading into the season following the graduation of Michael Hines was the punting game. Redshirt freshman Chris Hagerup has turned those doubts into one of the Hoosiers' strengths through the first four games.

    Hagerup leads the Big Ten and is seventh in the nation averaging 45.4 yards per kick. Against Michigan State, he blasted six punts for an average of 51.5 yards (the fifth-highest single-game total in IU history) with one downed inside the 20, four over 50 yards and a long of 67 yards, which is the longest punt by a Hoosier since Tyson Beattie's 71-yarder vs. UConn on Sept. 23, 2006. His 67-yarder is also the longest punt in the Big Ten this year.

    On the season, the Whitefish Bay, Wis., native has eight 50-plus yarders and three landing inside the 20-yard line. After averaging just 37 yards on his first six punts of the season (games one and two), Hagerup is averaging 51 yards on his last nine punts with six of those going over 50 yards and two falling inside the 20.

    Specialty Act
    In addition to Hagerup, the Hoosiers' special team has cashed in some big plays this season. Sophomore safety Jerimy Finch has blocked a punt each of the past two weeks, resulting in five Hoosier points. Fifth-year senior kick returner Marcus Thigpen is third in the Big Ten averaging 20.9 per return and IU's kickoff team leads the conference with a net average of 47.6 yards. Fifth-year senior kicker Austin Starr is a perfect 14-for-14 on extra points, 4-for-6 on field goals and has 11 touchbacks on 24 kickoffs.

    Stepping In
    With starting safeties Austin Thomas and Nick Polk missing the Michigan State game with injuries, seniors Joe Kleinsmith and Brandon Mosley received the starting nod against the Spartans. Kleinsmith led the Hoosiers with a career-high 12 tackles, eight solo, while Mosley took advantage of his first career start with a career-best 10 stops and one pass breakup.




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